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Azerbaijan: Imprisoned Opposition Leaders Go On Hunger Strike Over Rigged Election

Baku, 1 December 2003 (RFE/RL) -- A group of detained Azerbaijani opposition activists and their supporters began a hunger strike today demanding the release of about 100 protesters, imprisoned after October's presidential elections, and an investigation into the alleged vote rigging. The head of the committee defending the rights of the detainees, Vagif Hajibejli, told RFE/RL that 24 people went on an indefinite hunger strike in a prison in the capital Baku and more than five joined them in Musavat and Umid party headquarters.

107 opposition activists were arrested and kept in detention in Azerbaijan after thousands of people protested over 15 October elections won by Ilham Aliyev, son of the ailing former President Heidar Aliyev.

Musavat Party leader Isa Qambar came second in the poll and accused the authorities of falsifying the results.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Council of Europe, and the United States have demanded an open and quick investigation of the accusations.