A prominent member of the Azerbaijani opposition group the Popular Front Party has been sentenced to 30 days of administrative arrest after taking part in a protest in Baku.
Rovshan Mammadov was detained on 11 November during a demonstration organised by the party. He was convicted the following day of disobeying police.
The demonstration in front of the Baku City Executive Power was organised to demand freedom of assembly, the reopening of Azerbaijan’s land borders, the release of political prisoners, and free elections and democratic reforms.
According to the Popular Front Party, a total of 235 people were detained before later being released. The Interior Ministry said that only one person was detained with the others being ‘removed from the area’.
The Interior Ministry said Mammadov was detained for breaking the rear window of a police car ‘in a drunken state’ during the protest, a claim his party denies.
‘When Rovshan Mammadov was detained, the window of the car was already broken, and there is video evidence of this’, the party said in a statement. ‘They insulted him and arrested him for 30 days.’
The chair of the Popular Front Party, Ali Karimli, said that Mammadov’s arrest, along with the arrest of two members of the pro-democracy group the D1918 Movement the previous week, showed that the authorities were afraid.
‘People’s growing dissatisfaction with the power of Ilham Aliyev, the actions held by the Popular Front Party, and the organisation of young people have increased the fear in the regime’, Karimli said.
‘What does the regime always do when it is afraid? It tries to frighten society by defaming political and social activists and arresting them. And now they started making arrests, in other words, because they are afraid.’