Police Forcibly Disperse Social Protests in Regions

January 12th, 2016

January 12– A group of residents of Liman town in Lankaran region held a protest demanding lower food prices, after the prices of food and other essential goods saw a sharp rise following the devaluation of the national currency on December 21, 2015. The police used physical force to disperse the protesters, who had attempted to block the Alat-Astara highway.

 

Lankaran Regional Executive Power confirmed that a protest had been held in the region, but that it had ended when the protesters were promised that their problems would be resolved.

 

January 12– A group of citizens gathered outside the executive power building in Siyazan region demanding that the authorities address unemployment and the post-devaluation difficulties of repaying bank loans. The chief of Siyazan Regional Executive Power received 40 of the protesters and told them that their problems would be resolved. However, following the late-night arrest of some of the protesters, the next day (January 13), the residents reassembled to demand the release of those arrested. Riot police from the Interior Ministry were deployed to break up the protest. They used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd. 

 

January 13, 2016 – A similar protest broke out in Bala Bahmanli village in Fuzuli region. Police stopped the protesters from blocking the Baku-Horadiz highway. The protest ended after Fuzuli Regional Executive Power promised to fulfill the protesters’ demands. Deputy Chief of Fuzuli Regional Executive Power, Baghir Aslanov, confirmed that a protest had been held in Fuzuli due to the hike in food prices.

 

The Prosecutor General’s Office and the Ministry of Internal Affairs issued a joint statement on the protests held in the regions.

“On 12-13 January 2016, a group of Siyazan residents organized a street march through the central avenues and streets of the city without coordinating it in the manner specified by the law. By grossly violating the public order, the participants of the rally defied the legal requirements set forth by government representatives and committed illegal actions that infringed the normal activity of transport, enterprises, institutions and organizations. As a result, violence was committed against police officers on duty, endangering their lives and their health; bodily injuries of varying degrees of severity were inflicted on them; and two police cars were damaged in a manner that was dangerous to the public.

In order to ensure the safety of the region’s residents and to protect their constitutional rights, public order was restored through lawful measures taken by the police and internal troops, and 55 persons were detained for committing illegal acts. As these actions constituted criminal elements such as organization of actions promoting infringement of public order or active participation in such actions, causing intentional damage to property of others, and violently resisting  representatives of authorities in a way that is dangerous to life or health, a criminal case has been launched under Articles 186.2.2 (deliberate destruction or damage of property through arson, explosion or other publicly dangerous ways or entailing serious consequences), 233 (organization by group of persons of actions that seriously violate public order, or associated with insubordination to lawful requirements of the authorities, or entailing the infringement of the normal activity of transport, enterprise, establishment and organization, as well as active participation in such actions) and 315.2 (resistance or application of violence against a representative of the authorities) of the Criminal Code. The case is under investigation by the Prosecutor General’s Office. Some of the detainees have already been charged, and appropriate measures have been taken against those whose have committed administrative offences. Forensic examinations have been arranged in order to determine the amount of damage caused to the state and citizens as a result of the incident, the severity of the bodily injuries inflicted on the police officers, and other aspects.”

“Initial procedural investigations have revealed that the illegal actions carried out in Siyazan, Lankaran, Fuzuli, Aghjabadi, and Aghsu cities and regions, and aiming at the breach of public order were organized by activists from the APFP and Musavat Parties, as well as a number of radical religious extremist forces,” reads the official statement