Police detained at least 20 demonstrators in Baku on Wednesday, September 9, after crowds gathered to call for the release of hunger-striking politician Tofiq Yaqublu. The demonstration was initially due to take place in front of the Constitutional Court in Baku, but police reportedly blocked all routes leading to the site and demonstrators then gathered on Azerbaijan Avenue. There were no immediate reports of any injuries amid the demonstrations.
Further protests are likely in the near term. Associated disruptions to transportation and business are to be expected around demonstration sites.
Tofiq, who is outspoken against the current administration, was sentenced to four years and three months in prison on September 3 after being arrested in March on charges relating to an alleged dispute following a traffic incident. Tofiq and rights groups believe the charges to be ill-founded claiming he has been set up. Tofiq is a deputy chairman of the opposition Musavat Party and a senior politician in the National Council of Democratic Forces.
Tofiq spent 14 months in prison in 2013-14 on charges widely dismissed as politically motivated.
Those in Azerbaijan are advised to monitor developments, avoid all demonstrations and political gatherings as a precaution, and anticipate a heightened security presence and localized disruptions to transportation and business around protest sites.
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