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Azerbaijani Opposition Figure Sent To Pretrial Detention Over Unsanctioned Rallies


Azerbaijani oppositionist Mammad Ibrahim (file photo)

BAKU -- Mammad Ibrahim, an opposition politician in Azerbaijan, has been sent to pretrial detention over his participation in an unsanctioned rally.

A court in Baku on July 28 ruled that Ibrahim, who is a member of the general committee of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (AXCP), must stay in pretrial detention for four months.

Ibrahim was charged with an attempt to forcibly overthrow the government, damaging private property, resistance to police, and violating public order -- allegations that his party says are politically motivated.

He was detained earlier along with about 30 activists from his party for participating in unsanctioned rallies on July 14-15 in support of the country’s armed forces amid an escalation of military tensions with neighboring Armenia.

Half of the detained individuals have faced the same charges.

Last week, another executive member of the party, Fuad Qahramanli, was also sent to pretrial detention on the same charges for attending the same rallies.

The AXCP leaders have insisted that neither Ibrahim nor Qahramanli participated in the rallies.

Opposition activists in Azerbaijan say the charges could pave the way for authorities to target more members of AXCP -- including party leader Ali Karimli.

Karimli told RFE/RL last week that Azerbaijan's government is engaging in "political repression."

"Ever since President Ilham Aliyev announced the AXCP as an enemy, the security forces have taken that as an order," Karimli said.

Dozens of AXCP members have been arrested, and some imprisoned, in recent years on what their supporters have called trumped-up charges.

Aliyev's opponents, Western countries, and international human rights groups say his government has persistently persecuted critics, political foes, independent media outlets, and civic activists.

Aliyev denies any rights abuses. He took power in 2003 shortly before the death of his father, Heydar Aliyev, a former KGB officer and communist-era leader who had ruled Azerbaijan since 1993.

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