Azerbaijan: authorities crack down on anti-government protesters, arresting 40 (VIDEO)


Azerbaijani police officers detain opposition activists taking part in an unauthorized anti-government protest in central Baku, in June, 2011. Rights groups are asking the Azerbaijani government to cease these repressive tactics, including jailing journalists who are critical of the government, ahead of a UN-sponsored summit this week.



At least 40 Azeri anti-government activists were arrested during a large demonstration in Baku today, said Reuters.

Over 100 people took to the streets in the capital to shout slogans against Azerbaijan's authoritarian leadership and to protest the state's fierce crackdown on a rally in a small town earlier this week, said Bloomberg.

The Baku event was partly organized online, attracting some 5,000 people on Facebook, reported Bloomberg. The announcement prompted authorities to preemptively close off some streets in the capital, but demonstrators spread to alternative routes shouting things like, “Baku supports Ismayilli," a reference to a protest held in the northwestern town earlier this week, according to Bloomberg

The town's residents had united to oppose a local leader, whom they demanded step down from power, reported Reuters. The gathering attracted hundreds of people and turned violent, with police using teargas and water cannons in a bid to disperse protesters. 

Activists and human rights groups are critical of the Central Asian nation's hardline leader, President Ilham Aliyev, accusing his administration of rights violations, corruption, and the denial of basic human rights.

Here's a video of the unrest in Baku today, courtesy of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Azerbaijani Service: