U2 frontman Bono sent a personal message to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, demanding release of political prisoners.
“Message for President Aliyev! And that message is this Sir: if anything happens to one of our friends, we will hold you responsible!” he said at a concert in Montreal.
Bono referred to jailed Azerbaijani activists and journalists Emin Huseynov, Khadija Ismayilova, Anar Mammadli, Leyla Yunus, Rasul Jafarov, and Intigam Aliyev, whose photos were displayed in the arena.
Bono’s impassioned appeal came in response to a request from the Sport for Rights campaign. Speaking on stage from his concerts in Montreal both on 12 and 13 June, Bono mentioned “six friends of ours who tonight are locked behind bars for the crime of expressing their opinion”.
Bono’s strong statement stood in a sharp contrast from Lady Gaga’s surprise performance at the opening ceremony of the European Games.
Sport for Rights Coordinator Rebecca Vincent commented “We are thrilled that Bono spoke out on behalf of our jailed colleagues in Azerbaijan, including Sport for Rights founder Rasul Jafarov. …The world knows what is really taking place in the country, and will not keep silent”.