Broadcasting F1 Baku = Complicit in Azeri War Crimes

Broadcasting F1 Baku = Complicit in Azeri War Crimes

0 have signed. Let’s get to 100!
At 100 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!
Pelibossian Hrachia started this petition to Disney and

To whom it may concern,

I am writing to you to express my deep concern about the Formula One Azerbaijan Grand Prix, taking place in Baku, Azerbaijan on June 6, 2021, and to call on ESPN to not air this event.

The government of Azerbaijan has been involved in atrocities, human rights abuses, and repression of political freedoms. Azerbaijan is considered an authoritarian state, and its government, led by President Ilham Aliyev, has committed a myriad of human rights abuses against Armenians living within Azerbaijan’s borders. Azerbaijan launched a war last year against Armenians living in an area called Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as The Republic of Artsakh. Azerbaijan led a brutal war thanks to support from the Turkish government, which sent Syrian terrorists to the area to brutally kill Armenians. The humanitarian toll of Azerbaijani aggression cost the lives of thousands and displaced upwards of 100,000 Armenians. Although the war ended last Fall, Azerbaijan continues to hold and torture over 200 Armenian prisoners of war, and they have murdered numerous others.

My immediate concern is focused on education and awareness in the United States and our efforts to fight against these human rights abuses. By airing this event, Americans will see a rosier view of Azerbaijan, in effect whitewashing its crimes. At a minimum, the Azerbaijan Grand Prix allows Azerbaijan to use ESPN as a vehicle to mislead a broad and massive American audience into thinking that Azerbaijan is a friendly country and that it supports our values. In the worst case scenario, however, that kind of positive publicity undermines real efforts to stop Azerbaijan’s human rights abuses – for example, in calling on Azerbaijan to release the remaining Armenian prisoners of war, and to stop the desecration of Armenian historical and holy sites. If  President Aliyev believes he can get positive airtime for his country through a major American network, what incentive does he have to change?

As the Azerbaijan Grand Prix takes place, the government of Azerbaijan will be actively threatening the lives of Armenians within Azerbaijan and the region more generally. For example, in the very same city where the Azerbaijan Grand Prix will take place, a “Military Trophy Park” was recently opened, which exhibits macabre, racist caricatures mocking Armenians defending their homeland on brazen public display. Children have been brought to this park to strangle and pose with these effigies of Armenian soldiers and prisoners of war, illustrating the continued systemic racism propagated by the government of Azerbaijan.

I know that both Disney and ESPN care about their reputations – and understand that Disney and ESPN are not political in nature and have no active desire to support the government of Azerbaijan –I feel strongly that airing the Azerbaijan Grand Prix would not only undermine efforts to fix past crimes, but could make the network appear complicit in whitewashing Azerbaijan’s human rights violations. This will not be lost on some of the audience – especially a younger audience that cares about corporate social responsibility. As Azerbaijan uses this race to sanitize and obfuscate their crimes to an international audience of hundreds of millions, I hope that Disney and ESPN will prevent the Azerbaijani government from using ESPN’s airways to advance its causes by not airing the event.

Thank you for your urgent attention to my request. I look forward to sharing your response with my community and colleagues.

0 have signed. Let’s get to 100!
At 100 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!