Emin Huseynov has always sought to consolidate the network of Azerbaijani NGOs, build coalitions and organize joint initiatives and campaigns. In particular, he has played a leading role in the formation of the two innovative campaigns – Sing for Democracy and the Expression Online Initiative.
Sing for Democracy campaign
Sing for Democracy was launched in 2011, shortly after Azerbaijan’s victory in Eurovision Song Contest, by several Azerbaijani civil society organizations = the Alliance for Defense of Political Freedoms (SAMA), Institute for Peace and Democracy (IPD), Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) and Human Rights Club (HRC). Azerbaijan’s victory in 2011 meant that it would also host the following year’s contest in Baku – an event the government was always likely to exploit for its propaganda value.
The goal of Sing for Democracy was to shift the world’s attention from the glamour of Baku’s Eurovision event to the reality of the country’s poor human rights record. The campaign intended to advocate for the protection of human rights and democratic values in Azerbaijan, followed by targeted lobbying for the implementation of specific democratic reforms.
The human rights organizations which united under the umbrella of the campaign worked tirelessly to raise awareness at local and international levels about the human rights situation in Azerbaijan and their efforts yielded positive results. A huge number of international media organizations covered the campaign, thereby helping to raise awareness on the situation with freedom of expression and other fundamental freedoms in Azerbaijan. The campaign even received the backing of the eventual winner of the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest, Swedish singer Loreen who met with Azerbaijani human rights defenders before performing on stage and expressed her support for their case, saying “Human rights are violated in Azerbaijan every day. One should not be silent about such things.”
Expression Online Initiative
The Expression Online Intiative was founded in 2012 in the run-up to another international event the Azerbaijan government wanted to use to improve its image abroad. The UN-sponsored 7th Internet Governance Forum was due to be held in Baku in November that year.
IRFS, together with two other NGOs set out a groundbreaking internet freedom action. The objective of Expression Online consortium was to develop best practices for advancing internet access and freedom in Azerbaijan and promote public dialogue both during and after the Baku Internet Governance Forum.
Emin co-authored several of the groundbreaking reports produced by Expression Online coalition, which were highly critical of Azerbaijan’s digital policy. During 2013 Internet Governance Forum in Bali, Indonesia, Emin Huseynov made an intervention on authoritarian regimes’ use of technological and human surveillance by to monitor the online environment and stifle dissent.