On February 11, 2020, peaceful protestors held an action at the Central Election Commission in Baku to raise concerns about recent Parliamentary elections. According to TURAN News Agency and eyewitness accounts shared with HRHF, police employed excessive and disproportionate violence against these peaceful protestors – which included Parliamentary candidates and civil society activists. News reports and HRHF interviews also found violence by police against journalists associated with Voice of America, Azerbaijani service, Radio Azadliq, and Meydan TV which were reporting on the peaceful protest.
Following this violence, eyewitnesses report that dozens of peaceful protestors and journalists were detained in buses for approximately two hours and released in the outskirts of Baku in the middle of the night. According to these reports, police later hindered several injured protestors and journalists from getting access to medical treatment and medical reports documenting their injuries and subsequent treatment. These violent and unlawful actions against peaceful protestors and journalists represent a vagrant violation of the freedom of assembly by Azerbaijani authorities.
In response to this, HRHF calls upon the Azerbaijani authorities to:
- Respect freedom of assembly and allow open public space for individuals to express themselves peacefully;
- Allow peaceful gatherings in central Baku and implement the notification procedure for gathering in line with international standards;
- Conduct an effective, prompt and unbiased investigation into the excessive use of force and credible allegations of ill-treatment by the police on February 11, 2020 and bring perpetrators to justice; and,
- Ensure that protesters injured on February 11, 2020 get access to medical treatment.