UK human rights campaigner held overnight and deported from Baku in run-up to European Games

Press Release 10 Jun 2015 anna

Contact in London: Mika Minio-Paluello, 07733466038 / 02074033738 [email protected]


Emma Hughes of Platform has been deported from Azerbaijan, where she was detained and held overnight in Baku airport. Emma had arrived in Baku at 3pm, but was taken off her plane by guards and questioned, then detained. During her detention she was told she was on a “red list” and had her passport taken from her. During the night, she was moved to a different location in the airport, after which CCTV photos of Emma appeared in articles on Azerbaijani websites.


Emma was on her way to report on repression by the BP-backed regime of Azerbaijan’s President Aliyev during the 2015 Baku European Games. She had obtained press accreditation to cover the Games, which begin on 12 June. Emma Hughes is a co-editor of Red Pepper magazine and a human rights campaigner with Platform.

Emma Hughes. Credit: Platform
Emma Hughes. Credit: 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.”


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 Azeris.


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, from Sport for Rights campaign said

“Although the Azerbaijani authorities are working hard to promote a positive image abroad, there is a more sinister truth behind the glitz and glam. The human rights situation in the country has never been worse. It  is the government’s critics who are paying the price for the European Games, such as jailed human rights defenders Rasul Jafarov and Leyla Yunus, and jailed journalist Khadija Ismayilova. They are not only prisoners of the regime, but prisoners of the Games”.



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 [email protected]


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