Leading figures urge Imagine Dragons to cancel Baku and Tel Aviv shows

US pop group Imagine Dragons have been urged to drop Baku and Tel Aviv from their tour dates this month, over serious violations of human rights by the Azerbaijani and Israeli governments respectively, Artists for Palestine UK reports․

Now prominent figures are calling on the band to act on their stated commitment to inclusion and human rights by cancelling the concerts.

Here is their letter in full:

Imagine Dragons have shot to prominence not just for their music but also for their commitment to inclusion and human rights. They strive “to make people feel safe.” The band’s upcoming tour schedule, however, includes two dates that defy these commendable principles. We hope Imagine Dragons will cancel their concerts in Baku and Tel Aviv and show that the band will not whitewash grave human rights violations against any community.

A former International Criminal Court chief prosecutor has said that Azerbaijan’s siege of the large Armenian population of the region of Nagorno-Karabakh may constitute a crime against humanity. Many human rights experts have also condemned the siege that has led to a severe humanitarian crisis for tens of thousands of Armenians. 

Performing in Baku under these circumstances, regardless of intent, can only help the government of Azerbaijan cover up its crimes.

Over 1,700 predominantly Jewish and Jewish Israeli scholars recently issued a statement criticizing the far-right Israeli government’s homophobia and misogyny as well as its ongoing military occupation and persistent violation of Palestinian human rights. Echoing the findings of major international human rights organizations, the statement said, “there cannot be democracy for Jews in Israel as long as Palestinians live under a regime of apartheid.” 

Performing in Tel Aviv at this time in particular would signal to Palestinians that their freedom and human rights do not matter. It would also undermine Israelis working to end oppression and uphold equal rights for all.

We condemn all forms of racism and discrimination, including anti-Black racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia, sexism and homophobia. Ethical opposition to an unjust political system or policy is both legitimate and necessary. Bigotry, hatred and discrimination targeting any group of humans based on their identity, by contrast, must be ended. 

We believe Imagine Dragons share these values. We urge the group to uphold them by canceling the shows in Baku and Tel Aviv, and consistently speaking out for everyone’s safety and everyone’s human rights. Palestinians and Armenians, like all people, deserve to live in freedom, dignity, and safety. It’s not too late for Imagine Dragons to do the right thing. It would be a meaningful contribution towards freedom, justice and equality for all.


Adam Broomberg, artist

Sara Driver, director, screenwriter

Brian Eno, musician, composer

Nancy Kricorian, author, poet

Seun Kuti, musician

Gabor Maté, author, physician

Thurston Moore, musician

Pratibha Parmar, director, screenwriter

James Schamus, producer, director, screenwriter

Alia Shawkat, actor, director

Roger Waters, musician

Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director, Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN)

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