On Friday, human rights group Amnesty International urged pop stars Rihanna and Shakira to be aware of the recent arrests of activists, bloggers, and journalists in Azerbaijan. Rihanna, the “We Found Love” singer, is scheduled to perform in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku on Saturday. Shakira would be performing for the FIFA’s under 17 women’s world cup on October 13, and at another venue the next day.
Azerbaijan’s government has faced international criticism after it cracked down on protesters demanding democracy in May and followed through with arrests of journalists and political activists at the time of the Eurovision singing contest in Baku.
The letter jointly issued by Amnesty and Sing for Democracy mentioned, “Both singers should be aware of the situation in the country post-Eurovision.” The rights organizations asked both singers to be aware of the human rights violations in Azerbaijan.
The letter to the singers mentioned, “Amnesty International believes that the Azerbaijani government should afford all artists, journalists, activists, and ordinary citizens the right to express themselves freely without fear of reprisal. We hope that you share our belief.”
Though international rights group criticize Azerbaijan for suppressing free speech, the government there says Azerbaijanis enjoy full freedom of speech. The reactions of the singers are not known.