The fight against the population of a village with tear gas. What happened in Soyudlu?
Azerbaijani society was stirred up by videos circulated on social networks on Tuesday evening showing heavily armed internal troops throwing gas bombs at residents protesting the construction of a new artificial lake to drain waste from a nearby gold mine.
In one video, a police officer unnecessarily chases after an elderly woman and sprays tear gas directly into her eyes. The country’s Interior Ministry promised to conduct an internal fact-check. But in the end, local residents were detained and fined large sums.
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The reason for the protest was the creation of an artificial lake for the waste of a nearby gold mine. According to them, these wastes, dumped into the existing lake, cause serious damage to the environment. The new planned lake is built in the area of the village where there are pastures and this will further aggravate the situation.
During the clash police used rubber bullets and tear gas.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs stated that the police of the Soyudlu village of Gadabay region “succumbed to emotions and committed a grave crime against a woman, and we admit this.” Interior Ministry spokesman Elshad Hajiyev said that the actions of the policeman would be evaluated in court.
The statement of the Ministry of Internal Affairs regarding the rally held yesterday in Gadabay says that a group of people in Soyudlu “gathered in the specified area, despite repeated warnings and explanatory conversations.”
“These persons deliberately disobeyed the lawful demands of the police and injured several workers with stones and blunt objects, and also tried to resist the police officers,” the report says.
The community denied the allegation. Residents said they did not commit any violence.
Detained and fined residents
During the protest that took place yesterday, 7 residents of Soyudlu were arrested and sentenced to 20 days of arrest, the villagers said.
According to local residents, the 80-year-old village elder was one of those detained after yesterday’s protest. “According to the court decision, he was fined 1,500 manats [about $900] and released,” the villager said.
Locals have no information about what decision was made regarding the rest of the detainees. “But, judging by what was said, the police beat one of them with a truncheon in the police station and broke his leg,” said one of the villagers.
The press secretary of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Elshad Hajiyev said that at the moment there is no information about the detainees.
By the decision of the Prime Minister of Azerbaijan Ali Asadov, a commission was created to “investigate the situation” in the village of Soyudlu. This decision was made after the villagers protested for two days in a row.
The Prime Minister instructed the commission to monitor the training ground in Soyudlu and assess the current situation. The resolution also states that citizens’ appeals in the field of protecting the health and environment of residents should be considered, including the preparation of appropriate proposals.
Promotions continued on the second day
Residents of Soyudlu held another action today. They tried to go towards the local police station to release the detainees during yesterday’s action. However, a police cordon, which stopped them at the exit from the village, became an obstacle for the residents.
The administration of the Gadabay region went to the place and invited the residents to discuss their concerns. Residents met with officials and conveyed their concerns to the leadership.
A resident of the village, Gatiba Aliyeva, told reporters that as a result of environmental violations, villagers are getting cancer:
“Children are born sick, we don’t have the opportunity to treat them. All our trees have dried up, we inhale poison from the air. All this is poison from the lake. Yesterday we went not to beat the police, but to fight for our land. This land was given to us by the president. should the land be occupied? Why should we be beaten on our land?”
The head of the rural municipality, Farman Abdullayev, told a BBC correspondent that people’s pastures were taken from their hands to create a second artificial lake in the village.
The head of the executive power of Gadabay region Orkhan Mursalov, in response to a question from journalists, said that the second lake is not being built. He also added that the municipality has enough land for pasture.