Wed, 16 Oct 2019

Azerbaijani police detained several people in Azerbaijan's capital, Baku, during a protest on October 8 in support of freedom of assembly organized by the National Council of Democratic Forces -- (NCDF) -- an umbrella group of Azerbaijani opposition forces.

A group of opposition activists gathered in front of the mayor's office in the Azerbaijani capital, Baku, in protest of what they say is the city's refusal to allow a rally in a centrally located stadium.

The city administration had green-lighted the NCDF demonstration on condition that no more than 50 people would attend.

The NCDF members called the rally to protest a decision by city officials to deny permission for them to stage a demonstration at the Mahsul Stadium in central Baku, offering them instead the right to protest in Lokbatan, a small city outside the capital.

Some 50 opposition activists were allowed to the venue of the protest at 3 p.m. local time.

Several dozen more protesters who were barred from entering the venue tried to break through the police cordon but were dispersed and some of them were detained.

News media were also not allowed to cover the event.

Baku police said that 17 protesters were reprimanded for violating the 'mass demonstrations law,' and 'administrative protocols' were drawn up against four protesters for the same reason. Five people will 'be sent to the court,' the police said in a statement.

Unconfirmed reports said that about 30 people had been detained by police during the rally.

Photos from the scene show police in riot gear and crowds holding signs in front of government buildings.

The NCDF denied that any members of its group had broken the law and said that acts of violence had been committed against many of those looking to peacefully protest.

It said another protest has been scheduled for October 19.

A few people in the group did not appear to be with the protesters, with some holding signs reading "[President] Ilham Aliyev, we are with you."

Aliyev has ruled the South Caucasus country of nearly 10 million people since shortly before his father's death in 2003. He has previously often shrugged off criticism in the past.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service,Turan, and Interfax

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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