Baku Anti-Government Protesters Demand Aliyev Resignation

Beku protesters demand Aliyev resignation

BAKU (RFE/RL)—Opposition supporters in Azerbaijan have staged an anti-government rally in Baku, calling for reforms, and also demanding the resignation of the country’s authoritarian President Ilham Aliyev.

The protesters also demanded the release of a dozen political activists detained during antigovernment protests last year.

The demonstration on April 8 was the first that have been sanctioned by Azerbaijani authorities after similar protests last year ended in a violent government crackdown.

Organizers of the rally claimed that more than 10,000 people took part in the demonstration.  Baku police, however, put the number of protesters at around 1,200.

A statement by Baku police said the protesters were members and supporters of several opposition movements, including the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party, (APFP), Musavat (Equality), and the People’s Party, as well as several nongovernmental organizations and youth groups.

Ali Kerimli, the leader of the APFP made a speech at the rally calling for greater freedoms in the country.

“The Azerbaijani government led by Ilham Aliyev is carrying out a policy that has been destroying the Azerbaijani opposition, and stifling independent voices – by banning demonstrations – over the past seven years,” he said.

Isa Gambar, the leader of the Musavat opposition party, likened the situation in Azerbaijan to Arab countries that experienced a wave of popular uprisings leading to regime changes last year.

“We have always been sure the wave of the changes, democracy and freedom in the world will come to Azerbaijan, too,” he said. “However, at the same time, we want this process to take place in peaceful ways, without confrontation and – unlike the Arab countries — without bloodshed.  That is our choice.  If events take a different turn, the responsibility for that would lie with Aliyev’s government.”

A member of the APFP told RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani Service that he and 10 other activists were beaten by police on their way to the rally.

Police in Baku have denied the allegations.

The organizers of the demonstration said authorities had disrupted transport links to restrict the number of protestors heading to the protests.

Locals say hundreds of police have set up security booths around the city.

Pro-democracy opposition activists in the oil-rich Caspian nation had staged rallies in Baku last year, but police cracked down on the protests.

At least, 16 opposition activists were arrested during the protests.  Some of them have been released, but no fewer than 12 remain in custody.

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6 Comments

  1. Basil said:

    This could be great news – for Azeris as well as the whole region. The status quo with the Alievs leading Azerbaijan for nearly 40 years is close to unbearable. However, concerning the Armenien view on this happenings: while the Azeri-Turko fascism has started with Aliev, his babble is just a necessity in order to stay in power by simulating a common enemy. However, meanwhile real fascists have formed in Azerbaijan, who could just as well come to power. As with the Arab countries, the demonstrators might want to accomplish a good thing but could turn up helping something much worse than the current nepotistic, cleptocratic regime.

    However, seeing as how Aliev is planning to built the worlds tallest building by using his limited oil money, while still more than a million of the population live in poverty and thereby are even easier to manipulate, leading the region to a catastrophe with war-mongering and weapon-deals, is a clear sign that it might be time for change, for better or worse.

  2. Alex Postallian said:

    Thats the smartest thing they have done.Get rid of that monkey looking turk stooge.He is like the turkees,everytime he opens his mouth,people laugh,and knows he needs REHAB.

  3. hayko yesilkoyluian said:

    they have patrol nothing will happen it they were bad russia wouldnt buy gas from azr

  4. Armanen said:

    From an Armenian point of view, Aliyev is the devil we know. He likes to talk big and say his fiefdom will retake Artsakh, but he knows very well that should he make that type of gamble and lose, he will not only be out of a job, but may lose his head too and that of his fiefdom. As much of a scum bag as he is, there are worse people waiting in the wings to take over, should the little sultan of baku fall.

  5. Random Armenian said:

    I’d like to throw my voice in with other here. We don’t know if anyone after Aliev would be better or worse. Let’s not be short-sighted and assume this will improve without Aliev. He could easily have been holding back on starting a war to safeguard his own interests.

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