By Ashley Husband Powton
The international spotlight shining on Azerbaijan provided its citizens a golden opportunity to draw attention to the widespread corruption and violation of human rights which have characterised the authoritarian government of the country since gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
As the Eurovision song contest was beamed out from the capital city of Baku, opposition activists seized on the increased media presence and took to the streets to demonstrate.

An estimated 125 million people tuned in to watch on Saturday evening, blissfully unaware or consciously ignorant as the Azerbaijani police aggressively made arrests and violently crushed the anti-government protests taking place throughout the host city.

The nominally democratic government of President Ilham Aliyev, whose landslide victories are marred by voter intimidation, police violence, media bias and rigging of results, has come under consistent attack from bodies such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

Earlier this week, Amnesty International's Deputy Director For Europe and Central Asia John Dalhuisen announced the continuation of "serious human rights violations" throughout the run-up to the Eurovision event, reporting a “stern crackdown on freedom of expression, dissent, NGOs, critical journalists, in fact anyone who criticizes the Aliyev regime too strongly.”

The contempt demonstrated by the Azerbaijani regime towards human rights and democracy along with the political prisoners currently being detained in Azerbaijani jails were all overlooked in the name of tawdry euro-pop on Saturday night.

Next Saturday’s events may not rank anywhere near as highly as the violation of human rights in Azerbaijan, but democracy will once again be scrutinised as the modern nations of Europe renounce their proudly held progressive ideals in their rush to dignify another embarrassing event; this time in the name of mindless medieval tradition as Britain celebrates the Diamond Jubilee of our long reigning monarch.

Union-jack bunting and portraits of our sovereign adorn the aisles of every supermarket; councils are inundated with applications to hold street parties; competing television channels air endless documentaries about the life and the palaces of our Queen, and newspapers give away glorious and patriotic soundtracks to the whole grandiose event.

Regally ceremonious events and grand displays of imperial power will be graced by the presence of the monarch over the course of the Diamond Jubilee weekend before she embarks on a tour of the rest of her realm, meeting and greeting the herds of lowly and loyal subjects eager to lay down at her feet in devout deference.

The leaders of this nation claim to champion equality and social mobility, yet emerge as the head cheerleaders in celebrating hereditary birth right. They claim to champion democracy and the voice of the people yet lavish praise upon our state of constitutional monarchy as being the best of British.

The people of Britain are implored and encouraged to celebrate the life of one fortunate enough to emerge from a royal womb and to get down on their knees in submission to unearned wealth and privilege and power.

Their answer?  Without protest.



# Caadfael 2012-05-28 08:47
I for one will not be celebrating anything to do with royalty or the olympics, they both have cost us dear and will show us no benefit whatsoever!
As for anything with a union flag on it, or shops displaying such .. absolute no-no!
I cordially invite them to stick it where the sun dont shine!
# Talorcan 2012-05-28 09:03
I also shall not be having anything to do with this tawdry ostentatious show of servility. I'll be off for a week's stay in an island cottage and I'll be going hill walking, taking photographs, indulging in some beach combing and brushing up on my Gaelic place names. And I won't be reading any newspapers nor allowing that sychophantic Radio Scotland anywhere near my eardrums. I'm really looking forward to it.
# H Scott 2012-05-28 09:11
I think what happens in Azerbaijan cannot seriously be linked to the Diamond Jubilee. It could be said, however, that the monarchy don't need to rig elections: they just don't hold them!
# SolTiger 2012-05-28 16:18
H Scott I believe the "link" is that the Eurovision Song Contest is an outdated load of rubbish and people focused on it while ignoring real issues in the host city.

Similarly the Diamond Jubilee (and monarchy in general) is an outdated load of rubbish and people/media are going to be focusing on it instead of important issues of the moment.

On the Jubilee I had almost forgotten how much revulsion I feel upon seeing the Union Flag when I saw a car driving along with one flapping above the back window. I used to live in Edinburgh so I would regularly notice the horrible rag flying above the castle, seeing it flown up here in the North East is uncommon to say the least.

Add to that supermarkets full of guff about it, and perhaps most annoyingly of all shops in Scotland selling commemorative nonsense like biscuit tins which have "Elizabeth II" stamped on them, she is Scotlands FIRST monarch called 'Liz.
# H Scott 2012-05-28 18:07
I'm with you on all that, I just thought the link was a bit tenuous. Like I said, the monarchy don't hold elections - Elizabeth Windsor has been head of state for sixty years with not a single vote to endorse her.
# Talorcan 2012-05-28 19:23
It would be nice, would it not, if Mr. Alex Salmond and Ms. Sturgeon and all of our other Scottish Nationalist representatives were to make a polite but loud and fulsome observation at the earliest opportunity of mentioning that the lady who is called, and who also calls herself, Elizabeth the Second, is in fact, as least so far as we in Scotland are concerned, Elizabeth the First?
# H Scott 2012-05-28 20:16
Alex Salmond has called her 'Elizabeth, Queen of Scots' which is a very polite way of saying 'Elizabeth the First'!
# Fungus 2012-05-28 20:26
I tend to refer to her and her ilk in a way which is in no sense polite.

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