A sharp political conflict between the authorities and the opposition has been going on in Azerbaijan for several years. Opposition forces are trying to use every opportunity to combat human rights violations in the country. Even the final of the Eurovision Song Contest, which took place at the end of May 2012 in Baku, acquired a political tinge.
The opposition of Azerbaijan charges the authorities with trampling on freedoms and human rights, as well as illegal persecution of dissidents. One of the demands of the opposition is the release of political prisoners and the holding of early parliamentary elections. The most painful problem in Azerbaijan is the presence of “prisoners of conscience” in prisons, whom the opposition considers political prisoners. It is believed that there are over 60 prisoners in Azerbaijan who have been persecuted for political reasons.
One of the last major protests was held near the building of the Public TV Channel of Azerbaijan, which took part in the organization of the Eurovision music contest. As a result of the interference of law enforcement forces, several dozen protesters were arrested and taken out of Baku.
The idea that a music competition in Baku could become a platform for political demands was born in a coalition of Azerbaijani human rights defenders back in 2011. A bright slogan for the action was chosen: "Sing for democracy." The campaign was attended by youth, students, activists of opposition parties. The action was conceived as a large-scale event, including flash mobs, "round tables" for journalists, press conferences. The main goal of the protest actions is to reveal the beautiful facade of public life, as the official authorities of Baku represent it, and to show the real problems with ensuring freedom of speech in the country.
The protest movement was supported by the international human rights organization Amnesty International. The deputy head of this organization in Europe John Dalhoysen called on the organizers of the international competition to conduct a dialogue with official Baku in a more severe tone. Amnesty International's annual report highlighted numerous human rights violations in Azerbaijan. The country's authorities harshly condemned the politicization of Eurovision and accused human rights defenders of bias and lies.