US Embassy Press Secretary on Detention of Opposition Representatives

 

A Baku policeman detains a protester, one of 150 arrested last weekend in Azerbaijan, the first former Soviet Republic to experience democracy protests since the Tunisia revolt. REUTERS/Orhan Orhanov

The Embassy has raised its concerns about the detention of Azerbaijani’s who are connected with groups planning a protest for April 2.   It does not seem to be coincidental that these individuals are being arrested and detained this week.  Rather, it appears that these men and women are being detained to prevent their participation in planned protests or to discourage others from such participation.

Lawful free speech – including public protest – is at the foundation of democratic societies.  As Azerbaijan makes strides toward strengthened democratic institutions, we urge the government to make real the rights of free speech and assembly guaranteed in the Azerbaijani Constitution.   Many voices – many views – can contribute to building the kind of modern, stable, sovereign nation that Azerbaijanis want for their children.   We call upon the government of Azerbaijan to respect these fundamental freedoms, which ultimately, provide the foundation for lasting stability.

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