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Azerbaijani Activists Questioned, Journalist 'Beaten' Over Protests

"Azadlig" reporter Ramin Deko says he was warned to stop his opposition activities.
"Azadlig" reporter Ramin Deko says he was warned to stop his opposition activities.
BAKU -- Five Azerbaijani activists have been summoned to the Prosecutor-General's Office for questioning about Facebook activist Elnur Majidli, who has been charged with calling for the overthrow of the government, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

Zaur Akbar, head of the Youth Club Social Union, told RFE/RL today that he was questioned by police at the prosecutor's office about his contacts with Majidli.

At least four other activists have been summoned by the prosecutor-general since April 4 to be questioned about their contacts with Majidli.

Majidli lives in Strasbourg and is an organizer of the Facebook groups "March 11 -- Great People's Day" and "April 2 -- Great Wrath Day" -- efforts to organize antigovernment demonstrations in Azerbaijani towns and cities.

Majidli said the charges made against him on April 1 in Azerbaijan of "public calls against the state" are a "moral terror" against him.

Reporter Threatened, Attacked

Meanwhile, opposition "Azadliq" newspaper reporter Ramin Deko said he was abducted and beaten because of his attendance at an antigovernment protest on April 2.

Deko said he was abducted on April 3 by men in plainclothes, taken to an unknown place, and advised to end his activity in the opposition protests. He said that on April 4 he was attacked again in the evening as he left work.

Deko told RFE/RL that after being accosted, he was advised "to be clever and not to take part in the opposition protests." He said he escaped from the attackers.

Previously, "Azadliq" columnist Seymur Haziyev said he was attacked and beaten by unidentified men on March 26.

Interior Minister Ramil Usubov later met with "Azadliq" editors and said he would take personal control of the investigation into the attacks on the journalists.

In a statement issued on April 4, the U.S. Embassy in Baku expressed concern about actions taken by the Azerbaijani government to prevent the peaceful assembly of opposition groups in central Baku on April 2, including the detention of opposition activists in the days before the planned protest.

The statement said Washington "calls on the government of Azerbaijan to respect the rights of all its citizens to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, which are guaranteed under the Azerbaijani Constitution and international human rights instruments, including [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] commitments."

It also called for those detained because of their links to the opposition demonstrations "to be afforded due process under the law, with open and transparent hearings and adequate access to legal counsel."

Read more in Azeri here, here, and here