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The Wrong Sort Of Flowers

Why can't we have a day of mourning? That is the question troubling many Azerbaijani students who still don't understand why the government refused to honor the victims of last week's campus shooting, where 12 people died.

Hundreds of students from the Oil Academy tried to approach the building with flowers, but were turned back by police officers. However, over the weekend many managed to leave flowers and posters in front of the building.

What has particularly irked the students is the government's plans to go ahead with the Day of Flowers, which is marked in Azerbaijan on May 10 to commemorate the birthday of late President Heydar Aliyev.

Posters left on the building are calling for a boycott of the celebration. A Facebook group, "No to the flowers holiday," has been set up.

Some of the students even took to the streets over the weekend, chanting "No to terror" and "We want to mourn, not celebrate."

One student, Bisutun Baylarov, told RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service that the government should allow the mourning.

"In other countries, people mourn even if two or three people died. How come they are preparing the flowers festival here. They bring flowers from other countries to decorate the city for holiday. It can’t be this way. They were young. They are all our brothers and sisters. Our eyes are still full of tears," Baylarov said.

Last year the Baku mayor spent millions of dollars bringing rare flowers from around the world to Baku to honor the "Founding Father of the Nation."

This is the first time in a long time that students in Azerbaijan have taken such a stand. And this kind of unauthorized rally is something almost unseen in Baku these days. This time, however, the police stood by and let the students march.

-- Azerbaijani Service

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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