Ibrahim Ali / World Bulletin - Baku
Azeri youths organized a demonstration in Baku's central Fevvareler square via social networking sites to protest in reaction to the increase of deaths among soldiers. The demonstrators demanded the resignation of Defense Minister Sefer Ebiyev.
The broad safety measures taken by security units and the closure of roads prior to the protest caught attention. Once the demonstration commenced, police tried to apply pressure through severe intervention. Hundreds of people were detained and beaten in front of members of the press. Relatives of soldiers who lost their lives, legal activists, opposition politicians supported the protest. Independent observers indicated that thousands of citizens joined the demonstration.
The detained demonstrators were taken to police headquarters in the districts of Sabayel, Nasimi and Yasamal. It is claimed that the application of torture and pressure continued there. Director of the Anti-Torture Department Elcin Behbudov criticized the police’s severe intervention. In a statement about the reaction of the youth, Musavat Party Chairman Isa Kamber said it was a significant development that citizens took to the streets despite pressure by the administration. Chairman of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party Ali Kerimli shared his views about the demonstration on Facebook. According to Kerimli the March 10 protest dealt a key blow to the administration. Kerimli also stressed that the police’s use of force against the relatives of deceased soldiers would be met with a response by the public.
Representatives of Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defence suggested that the demonstration was unnecessary. The President of the Ministry’s press unit, Eldar Sabiroglu, accused the activists of exploiting the tears of the mothers of the martyrs. A Member of Parliament from the ruling New Azerbaijan Party, Siyavus Nevruzov, stated that the demonstration was organized by opposition leaders. According to Nevruzov, the opposition is having citizens take to the streets in order to create unrest. The official statement that a significant portion of the detained demonstrators are being released after a short period of time has been confirmed by independent observers.
Three student opposition activists, members of the opposition youth NIDA movement, were detained in Azerbaijan last Wednesday ahead of the planned March 10 protest.
A joint statement from the National Security Agency and the Prosecutor-General's Office alleged the student activists were detained on March 6 after illegal drugs and bottles filled with flammable liquid were found during raids at their homes.
According to the report, their families say the charges were trumped up.
Twenty-two people were detained after a similar protest in Baku on January 12 organized on online social media.
THE OPPOSITION’S UNITY ATTEMPT
Meanwhile, Azeri opposition leaders have begun to provide statements regarding unity before the presidential elections. Musavat Party Chairman Isa Kamber and Azerbaijan Popular Front Party leader Ali Kerimli have suggested that the opposition’s "great unity" idea may be realized in the coming days.
Member of Parliament from the National Independence Party, Hacibaba Ezimov, has proposed that a public campaign be created and the National democratic opposition prepare a common political plan, and member of the Council of Billionaries Rustem Ibrahimbeyov proposed the establishment of the National Council. Kamber and Kerimli expressed that these proposals will be considered in a constructive manner by members of the Ictimai Palata, or alternative assembly.Last Mod: 12 Mart 2013, 11:25