Azerbaijan demands ‘retraction and apology’ from UK embassy over Baku police violence comments
The British Embassy in Azerbaijan condemned incidents of police violence against the participants of the peaceful protest on May 14 in Baku. In response to the statement of the diplomatic department, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Azerbaijan issued a condemnation and called on the embassy to “admit its mistake and come up with a refutation”.
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On May 14, 2022, a large-scale peaceful protest took place in the center of Baku against the violent actions of the authorities against independent journalists and political activists.
'No to criminal state" – dozens detained at protest for journalists’ and activists’ rights in Azerbaijan
Dozens were detained at a protest against the ‘criminal state’ in Baku. The protest had been organized by over twenty public and political activists, 30 activists were detained prior to the protest
Even before the start of the action, police officers detained, in some cases with the use of force, about 30 protesters. After the procession was over, they were released.
On the same day, the British Embassy in Baku issued a statement condemning the violence against the protesters.
“The right to peaceful protest and an independent media are pillars of a free society. The protection of these rights is called into question by recent incidents, such as the disruption of a peaceful protest on 14 May, and the violence suffered by bloggers and journalists, such as Bakhtiyar Hajiyev and Aytan Mammadova. All allegations of violence should be thoroughly investigated”, the embassy noted.
Detention of journalist Nurlan Libre on May 14, 2022
Interior Ministry’s response
Today, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Azerbaijan issued a response to the statement of the British diplomatic corps.
“As already reported, on May 14, 2022, a group of people held an action at the Fountain Square, in the Sabail district, that had not been coordinated with the relevant state institutions.
Despite the conduct of this rally in violation of the law of Azerbaijan “On freedom of assembly”, the police did not interfere in the rally, on the contrary, they ensured the safety of the participants, and the rally ended after its participants read out their statement. During the action, not a single violent incident was recorded, no arrests were made.
Despite this, on the same day, the British Embassy in Azerbaijan published false information about serious police interference in the course of the rally and many detainees. This is unacceptable and a groundless interference in the internal affairs of Azerbaijan.
While the organizers and participants of the rally assess its course and the behavior of the police as satisfactory, the false assessment of the rally by the British Embassy in Azerbaijan and its accusations are incomprehensible. We regard this statement as an attempt to damage the reputation of the police which was performing its duties.
We call on the British embassy in Azerbaijan to refute the statement it has published and acknowledge the mistake it has made.
We hope that the British Embassy in Azerbaijan will act to promote cooperation and sincere dialogue between the two countries, and will refrain from trying to create artificial political barriers”, the Azerbaijani Interior Ministry said in a statement.
Journalist Nurlan Libre, who was detained before the start of the May 14 rally with the use of force, writes with irony:
“The Interior Ministry says the British embassy is wrong, that they are not violent. Either refute your statement, or we will take the ambassador to the gang department and make him film an apology video”.
Activist Rustam Ismailbayli, who was also detained on May 14 said:
“The Ministry of the Interior imagined itself to be the Ministry of Foreign Affairs”.
Human rights activist Rufat Safarov said:
“The Interior Ministry has responded to an adequate and fair statement from the British Embassy in an inadequate, unfair and slightly nervous manner”.