Icelandic musician and the country’s main expert on the Eurovision Song Contest Páll Óskar Hjálmtýsson is urging director of national broadcaster RÚV Páll Magnússon to have Iceland drop out of the contest this year because of human rights violations carried out in Azerbaijan in connection with preparations for hosting this year’s event.
Authorities in the capital Baku have been accused of carrying out forced evictions to make space for the construction of a concert hall for the contest, ruv.is reports.
Páll Magnússon said on Rás 2 yesterday that the option is being considered but that Iceland could perhaps make a stronger statement by participating and bringing attention to the situation.
“People have pointed out that the only reason for these human rights violations being in the spotlight in western countries is that they are being conducted in connection with Eurovision, otherwise Azerbaijan authorities would have carried them out unnoticed,” Páll Magnússon stated.
His namesake is of a different opinion. “Experience has shown that officials won’t listen unless they’re pushed up against the wall,” asking whether anything has changed in regards to human rights violations in China after the Olympics were held there in 2008.
“We have to say stop somewhere. If that means the end of Eurovision, so be it. Human rights come first, Eurovision second,” Páll Óskar continued.
Páll Magnússon expected the matter to be discussed at a joint meeting of the Nordic national broadcasters shortly.
Páll Óskar urged the director to get his counterparts to drop out of the contest too for the sake of a Nordic protest against human rights violations in Azerbaijan.
The national Eurovision final, where Iceland’s entry will be chosen, will take place in Iceland on Saturday.