Youth Activists Face Reprisals over Protest Rally

September 19th, 2016

mitinq

Several youth activists were detained and subjected to pressure ahead of the National Council’s protest rally of September 17, as reported by the activists themselves.

According to NIDA Board member Masud Asgar, he went to the police station on summons at 9 am on September 16, where he was held until the evening and then released. However, he was summoned again on September 17 and was held at the police station until the end of the protest rally. According to the youth activist, at the police station he was told that he had been detained for his participation in the September 11th rally organised by the National Council. Masud Asgar said he would appeal to the court over his illegal detention.

NIDA member Ali Zeynalov was also summoned by the district police officer a day before the September 17th rally. “Officers came and took me to Yasamal district police station #29. They had me write a statement. They kept me until the night hours and then told me to come again in the morning. On the day of the protest, I went there at 9 am, and was released as soon as the rally was over. I did not face a particular pressure. They just cut my hair,” the youth activist said.

NIDA Board member Majid Marjanli said the police came to his house looking for him on the pretext of conscription on September 15. “The district police officer phoned and invited me to the police station. I told him that I would not be able to appear, as I would have my wedding on September 16. Later, someone from Yasamal District Police Department called me saying “come over quickly, do not make us come and take you from the wedding tomorrow.” I still did not go. On September 16, they arrived in front of the venue, where my wedding was going on, and therefore we ended the wedding earlier. Currently, there is no pressure,” Majid Marjanli added.

Background: On September 11, the National Council of Democratic Forces organised a rally of protest against the upcoming constitutional referendum in Sports and Health Complex stadium (former Mahsul Stadium) in Yasamal district of Baku. The rally held under the slogan “No to Monarchy, Stop the Pillage” attracted more than 10,000 people. The following demands were put forward in the resolution of the rally: cancel the anti-democratic referendum; conduct political reform; ensure the independence of the judiciary; conduct radical reform to get the country out of the crisis; increase the payroll and pensions in accordance with the devaluation of the national currency manat and the price rise. On September 17, the National Council held another protest rally in Mahsul Stadium of Baku under the slogans “No to Monarchy” and “Stop the Pillage.” The rally had been sanctioned by the local executive authorities and lasted for 2 hours. A confrontation occurred between the protesters and the police upon the completion of the rally, and a number of youths including several journalists were detained. Some of them were later released.