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Police Break Up Baku Opposition Rally

1 October 2005 -- Police in Baku today resorted to force in an attempt to disperse opposition supporters who sought to gather on one of the city squares for a rally prohibited by the municipal authorities.

At least one person has been injured, according to the website The rally was organized by the opposition Azadlyq bloc, formed to participate in the parliamentary elections scheduled for 6 November. Would-be participants called for the resignation of the country's leadership and for free elections. Ali Kerimli, chairman of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (AHCP), one of Azadlyq's three constituent members, estimated turnout at several thousand.

Police detained up to 10 people, including one Azadlyq parliamentary candidate who was later released and the two sons of opposition Musavat party Chairman Isa Gambar. Up to 20 AHCP members were detained at the party's headquarters earlier in the day.

Talks last week between Azadlyq representatives and members of the city council and presidential administration failed to yield agreement on a compromise venue for the rally. Azadlyq proposed six alternative routes, all of which the municipal authorities rejected, offering in turn alternative venues further from the city center which Azadlyq deemed unacceptable.

Dozens of people were detained and several injured when police intervened to prevent a banned Azadlyq election rally on 25 September.