BAKU -- Azerbaijani opposition parties have held an unsanctioned demonstration in Baku to demand that authorities permit them to hold public gatherings in the center of the capital.
Some 100 activists, united in a group called the Public Chamber, picketed the office of Mayor Hajibala Abutalibov on May 7 and called for his resignation.
Reports say riot police quickly moved to disperse the unauthorized rally and arrested several activists.
The Public Chamber has announced plans to hold a series of rallies during the Eurovision Song Contest, scheduled to take place in Baku on May 22-26, “to draw the international community’s attention to the situation surrounding human rights in Azerbaijan."
The mayor’s office says it will permit the group to stage rallies on the outskirts of Baku, but the opposition has rejected the offer.