– Thousands of opposition supporters have gathered in Baku to protest against the Azerbaijani government and demand the release of “political prisoners.”
The November 9 rally at Mahsul Stadium was organized by the National Council of Democratic Forces of Azerbaijan, a pro-democracy movement.
Speakers addressed the crowd from a stage that displayed pictures of detained and jailed rights activists, independent journalists, and opposition politicians with the words “Free Political Prisoners” written on a banner.
Police asked organizers not to call for the resignation of President Ilham Aliyev during the rally and when the crowd started to chant “Aliyev Resign!” power was cut so that speakers on stage could not use microphones to address the gathering.
Chairman of the Popular Front Party Ali Kerimli called on the international community not to close its eyes to political repression in Azerbaijan.
Several activists including Leyla Yunus and her husband have been taken into custody in recent months and charged with crimes that include treason.
Their supporters claim the charges are fabricated and politically motivated.
International rights organizations have complained about the detentions and the failure of Azerbaijani authorities to properly observe due process of law, such as allowing those detained to meet with their lawyers.