» Human Rights

Political activism: During the Eurovision Song Contest 2012 in Baku, Azerbaijan, Loreen was the only entrant to meet local human rights activists. She later told reporters that "human rights are violated in Azerbaijan every day. One should not be silent about such things." An Azerbaijan government spokesman criticized her in response, saying that the contest should not "be politicised" and requested the EBU to prevent such meetings. Swedish diplomats replied that the EBU, Swedish TV and Loreen had not acted against the competition's rules.

In July 2012, Loreen performed at Slavianski Bazaar in Belarus, where Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko was in attendance. During her visit to the country, she met with the wife of political prisoner Ales Bialiatski, Viasna representatives and independent journalists, and in a two-hour meeting expressed her words of support to political prisoners and signed the petition to ban the death penalty in the country. Loreen later stated she was fully aware of the risks that "speaking out" came with, including the possibility she could have been stopped or arrested at the airport when trying to return home.

In August 2013, she was the ambassador of the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan and she visited Kabul, Afghanistan and the village Yaskin Bala in Warsaj Valley with Carl Bildt, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden. Next year, the construction of a new primary school will start in the village and the plan is that Loreen will come back and follow the work of the new school until it is constructed. "It was a great experience to meet the people of Warsaj in Yaskin Bala, both men and women. I hope to come back soon and meet my friends again," says Loreen, "Education is the most important issue, when it comes to decrease poverty and to help people taking control over their own lives," says Loreen, "I am very impressed of what SCA is doing in Afghanistan. To me, this is the right way of development efforts. I am happy to be committed in that work." For her work, Loreen was announced new patron of the World's Children's Prize in New York City, United States. On 30 October 2014, she won the World's Children's Prize again and meet with Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai and Queen Silvia of Sweden in a ceremony at the Gripsholm Castle in Mariefred, Sweden. She wants to support the WCP – the world's largest educational programs for children about children's rights. /Wikipedia.org

Loreen: a songbird with strong opinions
[Interview in Civil Right Defenders Magazine: Time to Act]

The Swedish music competition Melodifestivalen is not usually known as a forum for political opinions – rather the contrary. As a result, Loreen’s position against the Azeri government attracted extra attention when she won the 2012 Eurovison Song Contest in Baku. In this article, Loreen tells us why she chose to get involved on behalf of the Azeri people as well as what went on behind the scenes.

How did you become interested in the Azeri people?
- Baku became a current issue for me after I won the Swedish music competition. Prior to this, I didn’t really know much about the situation there. It wasn’t untill some of my younger fans on Facebook made me aware of the injustices in the country that I started to read more about the subject. I read about people who had been evicted from their homes so the government could build the new arena for the Eurovison Song Contest and I also heard that gays were forced underground because of their opinions. This felt totally insane and wrong.

How did you begin colloborating with Civil Rights Defenders?
- I told my management that I would really like to do something in connection with the final in Baku, so my manager Torbjörn Sten put me in touch with Robert Hardh at Civil Rights Defenders, who he’s known for some time. We had a meeting and together brainstormed a plan.

Normally, the Swedish music festival is not associated with political actions. How did you dare take a position?
- I have only been afraid a few times in my life and I don’t have much respect for people in a position of authority. I view things in a completely different way. Regardless if they’re politicians or royalty, it’s the people who have more or less paid for these people who run the country. They’re working for us, for the people. That’s how I view things. (Read full interview)


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