Emma Hughes of Platform, a member of the Sport for Rights coalition, has been detained in Baku airport on her way into Azerbaijan, by the BP-Aliyev regime. She has been told she is on a “red list”, had her passport taken from her and will be deported.

Emma Hughes has access to her phone, and can do interviews while in detention at Baku airport: 00447801140192 [email protected]
Contact in London: Mika Minio-Paluello, 07733466038 / 02074033738 [email protected] was on her way to report on repression by the BP-backed regime of Azerbaijan’s President Aliyev. In recent weeks, she has been actively campaigning as part of the Sport for Rights coalition, which is working to highlight cases of political prisoners in Azerbaijan in the run-up to the European Games.

Emma Hughes. Credit: Platform

Emma Hughes. Credit: Platform

She had obtained press accreditation to cover the 2015 Baku European Games, which begin on 12 June, but was denied entry into the country and is being detained in Baku airport. Emma Hughes is a co-editor of Red Pepper magazine and a human rights campaigner with Platform.

The first ever European Games, a subsidiary of the Olympics, have been dubbed the ‘Oil Games’. In the run-up to the Games, the BP-Aliyev regime has systematically attacked Azerbaijani civil society by jailing journalists such as Khadija Ismayil, lawyers such as Intigam Aliyev, academics and democratic activists such as Leyla Yunus. The founder of Sports for Rights campaign Rasul Jafarov has been jailed for 6.5 years.

Emma Hughes of Platform said from detention –
“I’m being detained on the orders of the BP-Aliyev regime. I may get deported, but over 100 political prisoners in Azerbaijan face years in jail until the oil-funded regime falls. Civil society has been stamped on hard in Baku. Journalists, lawyers, academics, writers and activists have all found themselves behind bars. And yet the Oil Games carry on regardless. The future of this country is imprisoned, yet BP still work hand in hand with this regime.”

Sport is being used to goldwash a corrupt regime and the oil company that serves it.

Emma Hughes wrote Platform’s new book, All that Glitters – Sport, BP and Repression in Azerbaijan, to be published this Friday 12 June on the launch of the European Games, outlining BP’s role in creating both the Aliyev dynasty and the Baku Games.

BP is the largest foreign investor in Azerbaijan. Since 1994, the Aliyev regime has depended upon BP to bankroll its spending and the personal finances of the First Family, as well as binding Baku into strong alliances with the USA, the EU and the UK. The oil wealth brought by BP has entrenched the Aliyev regime and failed to raise living standards for the majority of Azerbaijanis. All that Glitters lifts the lid on these hidden realities.

Imprisoned journalist Khadija Ismayilova, shortly before her arrest in December 2014, said “BP bear a responsibility for what is happening in Azerbaijan. BP is one of the reasons why the west is very hesitant about any changes in this country. The Aliyev regime is good for BP. It allows their operations and they can sort out issues with the regime. Political influence is part of the bargain. BP is blamed for bringing Aliyev senior to power but it’s not just historic – the UK government is silent about problems with democracy in Azerbaijan. BP’s interests are dictating the agenda.”

Rebecca Vincent, of Sport for Rights said:

“Emma’s detention at the Baku airport is outrageous. The Azerbaijani authorities have spent a fortune promoting the European Games, and have invited the world to take part in the spectacle. This shows once again that despite their attempts to promote a positive image abroad, there is a more sinister truth behind the glitz and glam. The ruling regime clearly has something to hide when it comes to human rights practices in the country”.

‘All that Glitters – Sport, BP and Repression in Azerbaijan’. A sequel to the highly acclaimed book Platform book on Azerbaijan ‘The Oil Road – Journeys from the Caspian Sea to the City of London’ (Verso, 2012) will be published on 12 June.
For questions or to Request and embargoed copy of All That Glitters, contact:
Mika Minio-Paluello – London – 07733466038 / 02074033738 mika@platformlondon.org