Police accused of turning blind eye to attack on Azerbaijan opposition leader
One of Azerbaijan’s most prominent opposition figures has been assaulted while police apparently stood to one side and did not intervene.
Isa Gambar, the leader of the Musavat party and a potential candidate in presidential elections later this year, said that around 100 people attacked him and other party officials, assaulting them and damaging their cars, while police apparently stood to one side and did not intervene.
Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev has a firm grip on the small, oil-rich nation, and tolerates little dissent. Tensions are rising ahead of presidential elections due later this year, in which he will seek a third term in office. Mr Aliyev beat Mr Gambar in 2003 presidential elections that were widely believed to be unfair. He took over from his father, Heydar Aliyev, who died later that year.
The attack took place in the southern city of Lenkoran, and Mr Gambar and his entourage had to flee the scene, while being followed and coming under attack from stones thrown by a crowd they said appeared to be commanded by plainclothes security agents. “The apparently organised nature of the ambush on Isa Gambar’s convoy and the failure of the police to intervene is clearly very worrying and needs to be investigated,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia, adding that the incident was just one of a number of worrying developments ahead of the elections. “Despite recently releasing a number of prisoners of conscience, the Azerbaijani government continues to arrest opposition activists for peacefully expressing dissent,” he said. Azeri authorities have not commented on the attack.
Over the weekend, an opposition rally in the capital Baku protesting against the death of army conscripts was broken up by riot police, and 21 of the participants were hit with fines of up to £500, higher than the average monthly wage in the country. They were charged under a new law that came into force late last year that greatly increased potential fines for “unsanctioned” demonstrations, seen as part of the government’s attempt to stifle outbreaks of dissent ahead of the elections.
The authorities do not allow protests in central Baku, and have a stronghold over most media in the country, with opposition figures such as Mr Gambar forced to garner support through personal campaigning and online. The protest had been organised through Facebook, with over 17,000 people joining an online campaign over the death of conscripts in non-combat situations. It was prompted by the death last week of an 18-year-old conscript who was apparently beaten to death at an army base in the west of the country.
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Exeter - An excellent opportunity for a Solici...
£17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...
£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...
£30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...