Democracy activists held in Azerbaijan
Baku: Azerbaijan has arrested five young democracy activists for trying to organise a nationwide day of protest in the ex-Soviet state through the Facebook social network, the opposition said on Wednesday.
The “Great People’s Day in Azerbaijan”, called for Thursday, is an attempt by activists in the tightly controlled Muslim-majority country to latch on to the mood of revolt sweeping through the Arab world.
However the authorities have made clear they will not tolerate even small-scale unsanctioned protests and have arrested leading activists on what the opposition claims are spurious charges.
“A campaign of young activists’ arrests is under way. The authorities are using illegal methods to suppress the opposition,” Isa Gambar, the leader of the opposition Musavat party, said.
He said five young activists, Bakhtiyar Hajiyev, Sakhavat Soltanli, Jabar Savalan, Dayanat Babaev, and Rasadat Akhundov, have been arrested so far, under “ridiculous accusations of hooliganism”, such as speaking loudly on the telephone in a public place.
Hajiyev, who was sentenced on March 04 for one month in prison, has already been arrested twice in recent months. Babayev, an activist from the opposition National Front party, was arrested on Monday, followed by the arrest of his fellow Soltanli and independent activist Akhundov on Tuesday.
Savalan was arrested in February in the city of Sumgayit for alleged drugs possession.
Amnesty International has called on Azerbaijan to “stop this crackdown immediately and allow activists to organise peaceful protests”.
In a statement issued after Hajiyev’s arrest, the US Ambassador to Azerbaijan, Matthew Bryza, said he would “continue to monitor closely this case and the cases of other recently arrested youth activists”.
Azerbaijan’s Turan news agency reported that Hajiyev went on hunger strike and claimed he has been tortured in prison. “They were twisting my arms, beating me with fists, insulting me,” he said in a letter quoted by the agency.
Just before his first arrest, Hajiyev stood as an independent candidate in Parliamentary Elections in November 2010, during which he criticised the Azerbaijani authorities and described the polls as rigged.
“Bakhtiyar Hajiyev has been continually harassed solely for peacefully expressing his views,” said Amnesty International.
Western observers assessed the vote as flawed, but President Ilham Aliyev’s ruling party, which won a landslide victory, insisted that the election had “conformed to European standards”.
Local media said Hajiyev was listed as one of the creators of a Facebook page talking of a “people’s revolution” in Azerbaijan.
The group’s page on Facebook, the online social networking site used extensively in the revolt that toppled Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, says “we are on the road of democracy and intend to follow this road till the end”.
Energy-rich Azerbaijan has been courted by foreign governments as a source of oil and gas supplies, but critics have accused the West of tempering criticism of rights abuses in order to safeguard their economic interests in the Caspian Sea state.
Masters of vast Caspian oil wealth, the Aliyev family has ruled Azerbaijan since 1993.
More from India
More from World
More from Sports
More from Entertaiment
- One year of Modi govt: PM promises to fulfil aspirations
- Watch: Mumbai cops find new secret agents in housewives!
- Hundreds die as heat wave continues in India
- 2G scam: Ex-TRAI chief alleges Manmohan Singh had warned him to cooperate
- Pranab Mukherjee defends Bofors scam, says it was just a media trial
- Salman Khan attends sister Arpita's wedding reception in Mandi
- Zee Media's mega survey on Modi govt
- Zee Media Exclusive: Vidya Balan chats about 'Hamari Adhuri Kahani'
- Para athlete Deepa Malik complains of callous service by Air India
- Smriti Irani visits Amethi, promises to pay insurance money to 25,000 women
- One year of Modi govt: Amit Shah addresses media
- I eat beef, can somebody stop me?: Kiren Rijiju hits back at Naqvi
- Delhi: Visually impaired boy scores 91.4% in CBSE 12th Board exams
- MP: 14-year-old boy works as bonded labour since 2009
- BBV: What challenges lie ahead of Modi govt?
- One year of NDA govt: PM Modi writes open letter to nation, promises to transform India
- Arpita-Aayush wedding reception: Salman Khan spreads love in Mandi, says `hum aapke hain`
- World optimistic about India: PM Narendra Modi on 1 year of NDA govt
- MSBSHSE Class 12th HSC results 2015 to be declared at 1pm tomorrow
- Bharatiya Janata Party lacks majority for Ram Temple, Article 370: Amit Shah
- Rahul Gandhi takes a dig at one year of Modi govt, wishes 'happy birthday' to 'suit-boot ki sarkar'
- CBSE Class 10 Board Result 2015 (cbse.nic.in, cbseresults.nic.in) postponed?
- AAP govt moves resolution against MHA notification: As it happened
- Check mahresult.nic.in for MSBSHSE Maharashtra Class 12 HSC Result 2015
- CBSE Class 10 Board Result 2015 to be announced on May 28
- Maharashtra MSBSHSE HSC Result 2015 on mahresult.nic.in
- Heatwave kills 90 more in Andhra, Telangana; toll crosses 800
- Gujjars adamant on holding talks in Bayana; rail tracks remain blocked
- CBSE 10th result to be declared tomorrow
- I was misquoted, says Kiren Rijiju on 'beef' remark