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Activists bring coffin to Azerbaijani ministry following spate of women’s killings

30 July 2021
Activists Aytaj Aghazade and Gulnara Mehdiyeva stand next to a coffin with the names of five women murdered in recent weeks. Photo: Abzas.

Women’s rights activists in Azerbaijan have brought a coffin to the Interior Ministry following a spate of killings of women.

The activists gathered on Thursday in front of the Interior Ministry before police broke up the demonstration shortly after.

On 25 July, a woman was strangled to death, allegedly by her husband, in the fifth murder of a woman allegedly by a man close to her in 10 days.

[Read more: Fifth woman murdered in Azerbaijan in 10 days]

During their short demonstration, protesters placed a symbolic black coffin with the names of the five murdered women in front of the ministry.

Footage from the protest shows that the police detained three activists and removed the others from the area. The detainees were released shortly after.

Elshad Hajiyev, a spokesperson for the Baku Main Police Office, told OC Media that no one was detained. ‘The action is over. The protesters were removed from the area by police officers.’

Gulnara Mehdiyeva, one of the detained protesters, told OC Media that her and two other activists were taken to the Baku Number 9 Police Station. 

‘They did not give us a reason for detaining us, they brought us to Section 9, after receiving our personal information, they asked us the reasons for the protest and released us’, Mehdiyeva said.

‘Between 16–24 July, five women were killed by their husbands or the men they were in a relationship with. We wanted to draw attention to this.’

‘We believe that the killings of women are political, and that the current killings are the result of the state’s lack of security for women, the lack of assistance needed by women victims, and the police’s indifference to such appeals. That is why we protested in front of the ministry’, she concluded.

Aytaj Aghazade, another women’s rights activist detained by police during the protest, told OC Media that the killing of women ‘continue unabated’.

‘The authorities can take action to prevent this [but] the police, in particular, are silent.’

‘The killing of five women in the last 10 days is very tragic. If certain state bodies, such as the Committee on Family, Women, and Children, the Ministry of the Interior, or the police, had taken action, these women might not have died.’

‘When victims of violence in Azerbaijan approach the police, they try to reconcile them with the perpetrator or the police discourage women from complaining. And as a result, the woman dies.’ 

‘Our goal in placing the coffin with the names of the murdered women in front of the Interior Ministry was to show them and the public the consequences of the police’s inaction.’

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