One in a series of anti-regime protests, inspired by the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, was held on Sunday 17 April, in the Azerbaijani capital Baku. The rally was carried out despite comprehensive measure taken by the police and security services.
The protests were organized by Public House, an umbrella organization that unites the democratic opposition and that was established in protest to the parliamentary election results in November of 2010. The National Independence Party of Azerbaijan (NIPA) is one of four parties in Public House.
“120 protesters were arrested and 65 have been ruled in Court”, says Elshan Mustafayev, NIPA’s International Secretary.
NIPA members were among the arrested.
“Several people were seriously injured in the rally. On the day of the protest, the police searched the home of NIPA’s Media Secretary, Ali Orujov, and the day after he was taken to the police station. Criminal accusations were made against him, but no official charges have been announced yet.”
Two Swedish journalists were detained by Azerbaijani police at the rally and were deported to Sweden the next day. They were filming a documentary on human rights and freedom of speech (DN.se).
Elshan Mustafayev says that the situation in the country is hard and that the dissatisfaction among the population is increasing every day. The government is trying to eliminate this discontent by use of force and repression. This situation might end in a social outbreak and a revolutionary situation in Azerbaijan, Elshan Mustafayev concludes.
Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation staff was in Baku on 15 -17 April, to hold a conference on the post-election situation in the country, in cooperation with NIPA.
Azerbaijan is a not-free-country according to Freedom House and crucial exporter of oil and gas. Freedom of the media declined between 1998 and 2010 (Democracy index 2010, Economist Intelligence Unit).