Azerbaijani police force social media users to apologize on camera for criticising police PR stunt
Baku police have arrested four people for their criticism on social media of a recent police PR stunt, which involved mugham vocalists singing a song of thanks to the police for their activities during quarantine.
In addition to their arrest, an apology video of the four citizens has been released online, in which they identify themselves, express regret over their actions and ask forgiveness from the same mugham singers they earlier criticised.
Most social media users believe the video was made under duress.
Ministry of Internal Affairs Spokesman Ehsan Zahidov told Pressklub.az: “…individuals who wrote offensive comments on social media were arrested. Each of them were charged, and sentenced to administrative arrest or fines by the court.”
On June 8, a quarantine day in Azerbaijan, 11 people were detained in the Yasamal neighborhood for throwing trash from their balconies at police officers. The mugham performers imitated this act, but instead threw flowers at the police while singing.
At first, the video was presented on social media as if it was citizens who had spontaneously performed the song, but it later became known that they were, in fact, professional mugham performers.
Those who criticized this faked video on social media were detained and taken to the police station.
The incident was also widely discussed on social media, and people are outraged that the police are interfering in their personal lives.
Some comments from social media:
“The regime writes the most dirty and shameful pages of our history through the hands of the police.”
“Good lord, the police are in a terrible state, they’ve lost the last shreds of respect they had among society.”
“No talk of solving problems, just more punishments. Because they’re not at all concerned with solving problems, they use any problem to reassert their despotism.”
“Really, measures should be taken against those who write comments or posts on social media. Even those who can read and write at all should be fined. If that doesn’t work, we must ban everything in the country that citizens can use to write – pens, pencils, markers, etc. If that doesn’t help, we will gather all the writers together and burn them.”