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Activists Seek To Organize Azerbaijani Facebook Protest

Police moved quickly when youth activists organized a protest in March 2011 via Facebook and other channels.
BAKU -- Azerbaijani social-media activists have launched a Facebook campaign called the Great Movement of the People in an attempt to strengthen public supervision of government actions it considers illegal, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

The campaign is the brainchild of Azerbaijani activist and blogger Elnur Majidli, who lives in France.

More than 4,000 Internet users were invited to register for the Facebook campaign, of whom some 1,000 have done so thus far.

Majidli told RFE/RL that more than 40,000 users have already shared material through the Facebook page. The movement also has an official website and YouTube and Twitter accounts.

"We are already conducting discussions with political parties and youth organizations about [staging] protests," Majidli said. "I think 2012 can be successful for Azerbaijan in terms of changing political processes [and] establishing the rule of law. Simply, we have to use the current situation in the world for the benefit of the Azerbaijani people."

A similar campaign launched last year culminated in public protests on March 11, which was designated the Great Day of the People. Police intervened to break up the protests and detain several activists.

But Majidli said the Great Day of the People achieved its goal. He pointed out that participants succeeded in "breaking the silence in the country" and spurring the intelligentsia into action.

Majidli said protests this year are again planned for March 11.

Criminal charges were filed last year against Majidli for advocating the overthrow of the government, though they were later suspended.

Opposition Musavat party head Isa Gambar told RFE/RL that his party is discussing the new proposals in the protest movement. He endorsed the planned demonstration as necessary in light of the current political situation in Azerbaijan.

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