Dear All,

A brutal police crack down took place on protesters in downtown Baku on 2-nd of April and tens of activists have been beaten, detained, arrested and improsined. To hold a meeting was decided at the Oppositional Public Chamber’s Rally Committee. The committee prepared the text of letter addressing the Baku City Executive Power related to the April 2 rally. The letter was signed by the representatives of the Musavat Party, Azerbaijan Popular Front Party, Classic Popular Front Party and Azerbaijan National Independence Party. The party representatives said in their letter that they were planning to hold two-hour rally on April 2 in the square before the Narimanov Cinema with demands of democratic reforms, freedom of speech, early parliamentary elections, freedom for Karabakh and others.

The Public Chamber’s Coordination Council decided that if the Baku authorities don’t allow holding a rally before the Narimanov Cinema, they will hold it in the Fountain Square in the center of Baku. Baku Mayor’s Office has replied to the Public Chamber’s appeal for holding rally on April 2 and said that will not permit them to hold rally in the square in front of Narimanov cinema. The Mayor’s office offered to hold the rally in the square in front of the driving school in “20-ci sahe” housing estate, Elchin Azizov street, Bibiheybat settlement. It is worthy to note that this space has no infrastructure to hold a rally and is far away from the city itself. It is a derilict place with no reason for the opposition to go there.

Before the rally police executed arrest of several active members of the oppositional parties. Member of Musavat Party Mehdi Mehdiyev was taken to the police office, Ibrahim Ahmadzadeh and Rauf Mammadov were interrogated by the police and later released. Member of Musavat Party’s Youth Organization Elchin Salimov was taken to the court from the third police office of Sumgayit. Chairman of Agsu organization of Classic Popular Front Party Yagub Babanli and chairman of Samukh region organization Tahir Abdullayev, member of Azerbaijan Popular Front Party’s Presidium Ilham Huseynli, head of security group of chairman of Azerbaijan Popular Front Party Karim Mehdiyev, members of Musavat Khalid Amanli, Rovshan Nasirli were detained. Ilham Huseinli was imprisoned for 7 days and Mr. Karim Mehdiyev for 13 days. Mr. Shahin Hasanli, member of Supreme Council of Popular Front Party receved a one month imrisonment and can be sentenced to more years on the fabricated court case.

2nd of April Public Chamber held a rally downtown Baku at 14.00. Dozens of opposition supporters were arrested as they tried to stage an antigovernment rally in downtown Baku. Protesters placards read “We want freedom,” “Ilham, go away,” and chanting for President Ilham Aliyev’s “resignation” from office. Police had shut down the central Fountain Square and roads leading to the square. Hundreds of protesters gathered near the square before security services cleared the area. The police, armed with batons, arrested protesters as they tried to reach Fountain Square, including women, and forced them into buses. RFE/RL correspondents saw police officers spraying tear gas through the bus windows into the detained activists’ faces.

Mr. Hasan Karimov, a second person at Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan was taken to police station by force from the apartment and he never joined the rally due to his serious heart illness. His heart could not endure the interragation and heavy conditions at police stations and he got a heart attack, after which hospitalised. His life is still under danger and critical hours continue.

Member of Supreme Council of Popular Front Party Mr. Rovshan Guliyev was also arrested and he sentenced to 7 days of imprisonment.

Several oppositional party officials were detained and now they face a criminal filing case. They are kept in Khatai Temporary Detention Center and expect a court. They are Mr. Fuad Gahramanli, Deputy-chairman of Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan, Mr. Arif Hajili, head of Administration of Musavat party, Mr. Tural Abbasli, head of Youth Organization of Musavat Party and some others, whose names are unknown. All are also member of Public Chamber and high-ranking oppositional activists.

Some other actions preceded this 2nd of April rally. Young activists’ calls for a protest on March 11 were similarly dispersed and got crack down by the authorities. A peaceful protest organized by opposition party of Musavat and supported by other oppositional parties on March 12 was violently dispersed in Baku after the organizers were denied permission to gather in a central square of the capital.

Los Angeles wrote about the rally:

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/babylonbeyond/2011/04/azerbaijan-more-than-200-anti-government-protesters-are-arrested.html

The Washington Post also published an article:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/police-in-azerbaijan-arrest-dozens-rallying-for-democracy/2011/04/02/AFbCupNC_story.html

Here you can read about those who were detained before the rally. Link is here:

Amnesty International urged the Azerbaijani authorities to respect their obligation to guarantee freedom of expression in Azerbaijan and to take immediate action to end the harassment of activists and journalists by police, officials, and nonstate actors. Read more about this and other issue here:
Police broke up the protest action downtown Baku brutally and you can read and watch video here:
List of arrested can be viewed here (in Azerbaijani)
We condemn the detention of the party activists, call on the government to reply to the appeals of the political parties and public organizations within the framework of the law and release all the detained.

We also urge the international community to hold strict position on this crack down and do everything to help Azerbaijani citizens to employ thier rights to freedom of assembly and right to safer life.

Sincerely,
Razi Nurullayev
Deputy-chairman, Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan
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