Azerbaijan: Rapper’s family detained over music video

Azerbaijani authorities detained rapper Jamal Ali’s mother, uncle and two cousins for four days after Ali released an online music video critical of the government, reported Eurasianet on 9 January 2017.

The video for song ‘Heykal Baba’ (Monument Grandpa) was released on 31 December 2016 and was dedicated to two young activists who are serving ten-year prison sentences for spray painting a monument to late president Heydar Aliyev, father of current president Ilham Aliyev.

The video quickly garnered over 100,000 views on YouTube. The attention led to the detention of four of the rapper’s family members, the rapper told Eurasianet, adding that police officers said that as many as 40 other relatives would lose their jobs, face arrest and be banned from international travel if he didn’t pull his video down from YouTube.

On 9 January 2017, Ali took down the video, despite him saying he would not do so just a few day earlier. Ali said “the track has done its job” and that “there was no point in hurting people at home”.

The rapper said authorities told him he wouldn’t face future problems if he stopped using profanity in his music.

Ali has lived in exile in Berlin, Germany, since 2012 after he was detained for his performance at an anti-government rally in advance of the Eurovision song contest being held in capital Baku that year. During his detention, Ali was repeatedly beaten.

Photo: Jamal Ali/YouTube screenshot ‘Heykal Baba’ video


» Meydan TV – 2 February 2017
Jamal Ali: Bringing dissidence back to Azerbaijani rap and rock

» Eurasianet – 9 January 2017
Azerbaijan: Rapper’s family punished over song critical of government

» Index on Censorship – 6 January 2017
Azerbaijan: Regime targets musician through his family

» Caucasian Knot – 6 January 2017
Relatives of Azerbaijani rapper Jamal Ali released from police

» Caucasian Knot – 6 January 2017
Azerbaijani rapper Jamal Ali reports pressure on his relatives for video clip

More from Freemuse

» 21 May 2012: Azerbaijan: Rock musician flees to Germany over concerns for his safety

» 22 March 2012: Azerbaijan: Three young musicians and activists detained

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