The authorities in Azerbaijan have prevented the opposition Musavat Party from holding a protest in Baku, detaining several senior party members including party leader Arif Hajili.
Hajili was apprehended by traffic police on 12 November as he was on his way to the party’s headquarters before the protest was due to take place.
He was released later that evening after the protest in central Baku was due to take place.
The Musavat Party planned to picket the Baku City Administration at 15:00, despite warnings from the authorities against doing so. They were protesting the authorities refusing to grant permission for previous protests in the city centre.
The 12th of November is a public holiday in Azerbaijan marking Constitution Day.
Police mobilised to block off the area before the announced time and began detaining people coming to the area near the City Hall.
Earlier that morning, the Musavat Party warned members that the police had cordoned off their headquarters and were detaining members trying to enter it.
Protesting a ban on protests
According to the Musavat Party, they were protesting the authorities’ refusal to grant permission for a protest planned for 10 November.
The party said they were denied a permit to gather in any of the three locations they suggested to the city hall. They rejected a counteroffer to gather in Lokbatan, on the outskirts of Baku.
An area outside the Mahsul Stadium in Baku’s Yasamal District, a spot close to the city centre, was among the locations rejected by the authorities. The authorities have refused to authorise rallies at the location since an anti-government demonstration on 19 January.
[Read on OC Media: Charges dropped against Huseynov after thousands rally in Baku]
As in the previous protest, police began warning party leaders and arresting regional coordinators and other members the day before the rally was due to take place.
According to local news agency Turan, all those detained on 12 November were released later that evening, except for Musuvat deputy head Razim Amiraslanli, who was sentenced to 15 days administrative detention for ‘disobeying police’.
Since an unauthorised opposition protest on 20 October was met with mass arrests, opposition parties have attempted several times to hold demonstrations to protest the authorities refusing permission for such events
[Read more on OC Media: Azerbaijani opposition cancel rally fearing ‘government provocations’]
The Musavat Party has sought permission for a rally since early November.
The protest on 20 October was organised by the National Council of Democratic Forces, an opposition coalition which the Musavat Party is a member of.