While the world’s attention is on the continuing unrest in the Middle East and North Africa, the ex-Soviet republic of Azerbaijan is intensifying its oppression of dissent. In the words of our latest release:
Ahead of a 2 April protest organized by opposition political parties through Facebook, the authorities have today detained at least 11 prominent political activists, echoing the pre-emptive methods they used to suppress protests on 11 and 12 March.
The wave of arrests began on 29 March when Nazim Abbasli from the Azerbaijan Democrat Party was arrested and given five days’ administrative detention.
Today two members of the youth wing of opposition party Musavat, Elchin Salimov and Rauf Mammadov, were arrested today by police and questioned about the 2 April rally. Elchin Samalov was sentenced to seven days administrative detention.
Police have also questioned the family of Musavat member Idris Emiraslanli in an attempt to ascertain his whereabouts.
Deputy Chairman of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (APFP) Ilham Huseynli, APFP members Karim Mehdiyev, Mehdi Mehdiyev and Nemat Aliyev, Classical Popular Front Party member Yagub Babanli, and youth activists Khalid Amanli, Rovshan Nasili, and Tabriz Qasimov were all arrested today and remained in custody this evening.
In the meantime, pro-government figures held a spontaneous rally outside the home of opposition leader Ali Karimli. They chanted that he was a traitor and a homosexual, while police stood by and watched.
While there are a number of detained and imprisoned activists in Azerbaijan, the case of journalist Eynulla Fatullayev stands out for priority campaigning. His articles have landed him charges of terrorism and treason, while he courageously continues his fight behind bars. Please click here for a sample letter to support prisoner of coscience and human rights defender Eynulla Fatullayev.