Azeri Police Arrest Opposition Protesters Near Baku
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Supporters of an opposition political group in Azerbaijan Republic staged a several-thousands strong rally outside the capital, Baku, to call for a a free and fair presidential election which is slated for October.
Supporters of Azerbaijan’s main opposition coalition, the National Council of Democratic Forces, waved banners and chanted slogans in support of opposition candidate Rustam Ibragimbekov, who is set to challenge incumbent President Ilham Aliyev in the upcoming presidential poll scheduled for October 9.
The demonstrators also demanded the immediate release of political prisoners and an end to the harassment of opposition groups and anti-government activists.
The police arrested some of the protesters during the rally, which had been given the go-ahead by Baku mayor, and held at a location some 10 kilometers outside the capital.
In the last two years scores of journalists, opposition activists and bloggers have been arrested in Azerbaijan, mainly on charges of possessing drugs or weapons. But human rights groups reject such charges, saying the government's heavy-handed tactics are meant to avert a popular uprising.
Ilham Aliyev succeeded his father, Heydar, in 2003.
He won two elections in 2003 and 2008, but observers have described both as falling very short of fully democratic standards.