Azerbaijan Democracy Protest Turns Violent
Update: (8:00 PM CST) The US came out strongly against the violence in Baku today:
The US has censured the use of force to disperse crowds in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku who were protesting about recent parliamentary elections.
A statement by the US embassy in Baku said it deplored the “unjustified and unprovoked use of force”.
“We deplore the unjustified and unprovoked use of force against citizens peacefully exercising their right to freedom of assembly,” said the statement issued by the US embassy in Baku.
POLICE BEAT DOWN DEMOCRACY PROTESTERS IN AZERBAIJAN,
VIDEO OF CLASHES HERE
Immediately after opposition leaders said they were going to stage a sitting protest on the square, police rushed to disperse them, beating them with truncheons, blasting them with watercannons and pushing them away as their two hour time limit had expired.
Protesters shouted “Freedom!” and some hurled stones at police, who hid behind shields.
Police officers disperse opposition demonstrators in Baku, Azerbaijan, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2005. Truncheon-wielding police on Saturday beat and dispersed opposition protesters demanding a revote of disputed parliamentary election , the first time since the vote that authorities used force against demonstrators. (AP Photo/Saleh Abdullayev)
Some 15,000 opposition activists rallied in Baku to protest the outcome of the Nov. 6 parliamentary elections, which they claimed were rigged. The rally was the latest in a series of opposition protests in recent weeks.
When the demonstrators tried to set up a permanent protest on a square in downtown Baku, police rushed in to disperse them, beating them with truncheons.
Azerbaijani Oppostition Memebers want the West to take notice with signs appearing at protests calling on President Bush for assistance.
A demonstrator wears an orange scarf with the name of youth opposition movement ‘New Thought’ and carries a sign calling out to President Bush saying, “President Bush, why do you remain silent?” at a protest rally over disputed elections in Baku, Azerbaijan, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2005. Thousands of people gathered in a Baku square Saturday as Azerbaijan’s opposition parties protested against disputed parliamentary elections, the rally last week that did not see violence like today. (AP Photo/Saleh Abdullayev)
A Reuters reporter said police drove protesters from the square on Baku’s outskirts where about 10,000 people had been holding a rally. But running battles continued in the streets leading away from the square.
Police were beating protesters with truncheons but some were responding by attacking police with stones and pieces of wood. The reporters said dozens of protesters were arrested and loaded into police buses.
Police moved in after the protesters remained in the square after the deadline given by the authorities for them to disperse.
Opposition parties have been holding frequent demonstrations since a parliamentary election on Nov. 6 that Western observers said was marred by vote fraud. The protests until now were peaceful.
A woman lay stunned on a street on Saturday in Baku, Azerbaijan, after police officers broke up a protest against a rigged Nov. 6 election.
Some of the injured in Baku appeared seriously hurt, witnesses said. (BBC)
Some of the demonstrators were trampled as the police charged and at least two women in their 50s were left on the ground and appeared to be seriously injured.
A total of five or six protestors were hospitalized, an AFP reporter witnessed.
One young woman, 18-year-old Rabiya Mammedova, standing over her mother who was nursing a head injury, said police had used truncheons and their fists after pushing her mother to the ground.
Previous Posts on the Azerbaijan Democracy Movement:
Azerbaijan Protesters Clash with Police
Azerbaijan Demands Freedom!
Azerbaijan Democracy Gears Are in Motion
Ripe Environment for More Democratic Revolutions
Out with the Old, In with Azerbaijan
Flowers, Eggs, & Rocks Fly in Azerbaijan Protests!
US Speaks Out as Azerbaijan Cracks Down
Russia Losing Grip on Ex-Soviet Republics
Eyes on Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan Election Test This Weekend
Azerbaijan Cries out for Freedom!
30,000 in Azerbaijan March for Democracy, Call on Bush