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More Azerbaijani activists arrested

An Azerbaijani court ordered detention of another human rights activists in this country. They have been charged with illegal possession of arms. According to local human rights advocates and NGOs, the arrests are related to the protests organised in March.

To remind our readers, on 10 March 2013, hundreds of youth gathered in the centre of Baku to protest against the situation and abuses in the Azerbaijani military. The protesters organised themselves using community websites.

More than a hundred protesters have been arrested by the police. Already before the protest started, Azerbaijani police detained three activists, Bakhtiyar Guliyev, Shahin Novruzlu and Mahamad Azizov, charging them with attempted use of violence. The men are still placed in administrative detention.

The last few days saw arrests of another young activists involved in the March protests: Uzeyir Mammedli, Rashadat Akhundov and Zaur Gurbanli. The police have already detained Rashad Hasanov. All the arrested are actively engaged in the works of the opposition organisation NIDA.

According to human rights defenders, the purpose of the crackdown is to intimidate the opposition. The recent actions of Azerbaijani authorities are examples of increasingly more sophisticated methods used by those in power to suppress political dissent. For months, the government has been falsely accusing human rights activists, using such measures as fabricated evidence, arbitrary arrests, threats, beatings or abductions. Anyone who opposes and criticises the country’s president may be detained or otherwise persecuted.

On 1 February 2013 the HFHR held a demonstration in front of the Azerbaijani Embassy in Warsaw to protest against the arrest of 40 peaceful protesters. One of them was the blogger Emin Milli, one of the most famous Azerbaijani dissidents. In 2009, Mr Mili had been sentenced to three years of imprisonment for anti-government entries on his blog. He spent almost two years in prison.

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