Target: Colonel-General Safar Abiyev, Minister of Defence
Goal: Gain the immediate and unconditional release of protestors in Azerbaijan
During a recent protest in Azerbaijan, peaceful protestors demanded justice for the death of a military conscript and called for the justice minister to resign. Soon after the protest began, police in full riot gear emerged and violently dispersed the protest. Unlawful arrests followed. Call on the Minister of Defense to release those imprisoned and ensure the right to assembly is guaranteed.
The Azerbaijani authorities should be condemned for using unnecessary force against peaceful protestors in the capital, Baku. Security forces utilized water cannons and tear gas against the demonstrators. More than a hundred protestors were then arrested and released several hours later. At least twenty-four of those arrested faced trial for disobeying police and participating in an unsanctioned rally and were either fined or sentenced to jail time. Three activists were arrested two days prior to the demonstration and were charged with planning violence at the protest. Yet, there is no evidence showing their guilt. The government should immediately and unconditionally release those who were charged by the government for participating in the protest and should open an investigation into the use of force against protestors.
The protest was intended to highlight the non-combat death of a soldier and the alleged history of abuse of conscripts. The leaders of the protest utilized social network sites like Facebook in order to set up the rally. The Azerbaijan authorities closely monitor social media services. They also routinely ban demonstrations in Baku, violating the right of freedom of assembly and freedom of speech. Sign this petition and demand that the freedom of assembly is guaranteed for the people of Azerbaijan.
Dear Colonel-General Safar Abiyev,
The recent disruption of a peaceful protest in Baku is unacceptable. The violation of freedom of assembly is a violation of a basic human right. Your government should immediately and unconditionally release those who have been charged by your government for planning and participating in this protest.
I also ask that you open an investigation into the use of force against the protestors. As your citizens were just practicing their right to protest, the use of water cannons and tear gas against them was completely against United Nation resolutions that your government has agreed to follow. Your people deserve to have their voices heard.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Serouj via Wikimedia