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Police Briefly Detained Dozens At Feminist Rally In Azerbaijan, Release Them Outside Capital

Police officers block activists during a rally held to support women's rights and to protest against violence toward women on International Women's Day in Baku on March 8.

BAKU -- Police in the Azerbaijani capital, Baku, detained several women and men taking part in a rally by the Feminist Movement of Azerbaijan (AFH) before taking them to a remote area far from the capital and releasing them.

Rabbiya Mammadova, an AFH activist, told RFE/RL that police used force and violence when detaining the activists and their supporters during an International Women's Day gathering on March 8, saying that one of the activists sustained a head injury while being taken into custody.

The activists then rallied in front of the Sabail district police department, where the detainees were taken, demanding their immediate release.

The detained activists and supporters of the movement were then taken from Baku to a remote area in the district of Qobustan outside the capital where they were left, according to AFH chief Gulnara Mehdiyeva.

Despite attempts by police to disrupt the action, dozens of AFH activists and their supporters managed to continue their Streets Are Free For Us march through Baku chanting slogans such as, "Women Unite!" "Break Your Silence," "Get Up!," and "Don’t Be Scared Of Your Freedom!", Mehdiyeva said.