Singer and Eurovision fan Páll Óskar Hjálmtýsson believes that human rights abuses in Azerbaijan warrant Iceland boycotting the event this year.
Azerbaijan will be hosting the Eurovision Song Contest this year. As reported, the Azerbaijani government has been engaging in mass evictions in order to make way for the construction of the Eurovision venue. Prior to this, the country’s human rights record has been strongly criticised by the international community, as reports of jailing protesters and harassing media outlets critical of the government have been brought to light.
In response, Margrét Steinarsdóttir, the director of the Icelandic Human Rights Office, said she believes Iceland should consider boycotting the event altogether this year. Páll Óskar has taken it a step further, Vísir reports, in saying that Iceland absolutely should boycott Eurovision this year.
The statement is a strong one considering the source – Páll Óskar is one of Iceland’s biggest Eurovision fans, and throws a yearly party in its honour. This time around, however, he is encouraging both RÚV – who normally broadcast the song contest – and other artists to boycott Eurovision.
“My position is simple,” he told reporters. “Iceland should withdraw from the Eurovision Song Contest in Baku, Azerbaijan. Human rights first, Eurovision second. It’s fun to be glamourous, but it’s a disgusting thought to be glamourous in a crystal palace built on as ugly a foundation or with as revolting a backstory [as this],” referring to the Eurovision venue.