Saturday, January 24

More opposition activists being detained in Azerbaijan

"Azeri opposition activists detained over anti- referendum campaign

Text of report by private Azerbaijani news agency Turan

Baku, 23 January: The state agencies are expanding their interference in the process of collecting signatures of the voters that oppose the 18 March referendum, Gulaga Aslanli, authorized representative of the initiative group on creating the Republicans advocacy group, has told Turan.

All kinds of pressure, including police detention, are being used on those who collect signatures, he said. For example, Qudrat Mamayev was detained in Zaqatala and Elsan Mammadov was detained in Tovuz. The latter was detained after he refused to stop collecting signatures.
Four plainclothes took off the bus Faxraddin Abbasov, an MP aide, in Sumqayit on 22 January. They brought him to a police station where two pages with collected signatures were taken from him. Abbasov was only released late in the evening and was told to come to police in the morning.
The head of the district branch of the Musavat Party was summoned to police in Ismayilli District on 23 January.
"We will appeal to the Central Electoral Commission in connection with these violations," Aslanli said.
Hasan Karimov, authorized representative of the initiative group for creating the For Karabakh and Republic advocacy group, confirmed the cases of pressure on opposition activists gathering signatures. For instance, two people were detained in Sabirabad and drugs were planted on them. A criminal case was launched against them. Lawyers have already been dispatched to Sabirabad to ensure their legal protection.
Activists of the People's Front of Azerbaijan Party and Musavat Party were also detained in Haciqabul and Mingacevir. "In a nutshell, opposition activists are not being allowed to collect signatures. We are preparing an address to the Central Electoral Commission," Karimov said.
[BBCM note: A package of over 40 amendments to the Azerbaijani Constitution will be put to vote on the 18 March referendum. The opposition mainly protests against an a! mendment which will allow the president to run for more than two conse cutive terms. The advocacy groups include representatives from major opposition parties and several NGOs.]
Source: Turan news agency, Baku, in Russian 0941 gmt 23 Jan 09"

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