A freelance photographer working for RFE’s Azeri service was beaten by a police officer today while filming a demonstration in downtown Baku as protesters demanded the release of jailed journalists and activists and the resignation of the Azeri president.
Abbas Atilay said that he was filming the detention of an activist when he fell down and a police captain began beating him. He told RFE's Azeri service,
“When I wanted to stand up, [the police captain] began beating me very aggressively in the face and the stomach. At that moment, plainclothes policemen approached me and apologized, saying I was beaten by mistake. Then high-ranking police officials approached me and said there was a misunderstanding. They said the OSCE was on the scene and asked me to forgive them.”
The incident left him with a deep cut and bruises on his face.
Then high-ranking police officials approached me and said there was a misunderstanding. They said the OSCE was on the scene and asked me to forgive them ...
Atilay's photos of political protests, environmental degradation and refugee children
in Azerbaijan have recently won him awards
Over 20 youth activists were detained in several protests today that were associated with a FaceBook campaign
designating March 11, “Great People’s Day,” the Azeri service reports.
A photogallery of Atilay's pictures from today's demonstrations is here
Dozens of policemen were deployed this morning ahead of the demonstrations at metro stations in the city center, stopping young people and asking for their IDs. Many persons who objected were detained.
In one protest, activists marched from a downtown McDonalds restaurant towards the National Bank building chanting, “Liberation!” and “Resignation!”
They also shouted, “Freedom to Eynulla Fatullayev,” an Azeri journalist who was jailed on charges that are widely believed to be politically motivated. Fatullayev
remains in prison, despite a recent ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that overturned his conviction by Azeri courts and demanded his release.
Protesters also chanted, “Release Bakhtiyar Hajiyev
,” “Freedom to Dayanat,” and “Freedom to Jabbar,” referring to a journalist and two youth activists who have recently been jailed.
An official from the Interior Ministry was unable to tell RFE how many persons were detained today, but said that such information would be released.
Compiled from reports from RFE's Azeri service.