At the Musavat party rally, oppositionists were ten times outnumbered by police " />

Several dozen detained at opposition rally in Baku

At the Musavat party rally, oppositionists were ten times outnumbered by police

The police have prevented an unauthorized opposition rally from taking place in central Baku. 

The rally, organized by the Musavat party on November 12, the country’s Constitution Day – was dedicated to freedom of assembly. 

Several dozen Musavat members were detained, including party leader Arif Hajili. 

• What is changing in Azerbaijan – society, gov’t, opposition?

Background and purpose of the rally

The relations between the Azerbaijani authorities and the opposition worsened after the Mehsul stadium was ‘closed for repairs.’ 

The Mehsul stadium was the sole location where the opposition party had been given permission to rally.  

Oppositionists are now allowed to rally only in the suburban village of Lokbatan, 20 kilometers from the city. 

In retaliation, the opposition has carried out unauthorized rallies in the center of Baku. 

On October 19, the opposition tried to gather the National Council of Democratic Forces (NSDS) in a rally. The police and special forces brutally suppressed this attempt.

The purpose of today’s rally was to defend the right to freedom of assembly and push the authorities to “give the go-ahead” for rallies in the city. 

The Musavat party wanted to get permission to hold actions in the center by the current picket. That is – they defended their right to freedom of assembly, as stipulated in the constitution. 

The authorities categorically banned this picket. A few days before the appointed date, Musavat members were called to the police office, where there they were discouraged from attending the upcoming rally and threatened with arrest. 

How events developed before and during the picket 

The rally was scheduled for 15:00. 

As early as noon, the police took control of the entire area around the Executive Building. 

At about the same time, information appeared on the Musavat Facebook page that the party’s headquarters was also cordoned off by the police, and everyone who was trying to enter was detained. 

At 13:30, the leader of Musavat Arif Hajili was detained on his way to headquarters. 

Several more people from the party leadership were also detained. 

By 15:00, there were a lot of journalists and about two hundred police officers (both in uniform and in civilian clothes) near the executive power building. 

Oppositionists came to the rally in small groups. They were taken away as soon as they started chanting slogans and speaking to journalists. 

The rally was not able to take place. By 16:00, police and journalists gradually dispersed. 

The majority of the detainees have since been released.

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