BAKU: Police thwart opposition picket

Aug 5 2004

Police thwart opposition picket

Some 30 members of the Whole Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (WAPFP)
attempted to hold an action in front of the Foreign Ministry at about
noon on Monday protesting the participation of Armenian officers in
the NATO training sessions due in Baku in September. The action was
not sanctioned by the Mayor’s Office of Baku.

40 police officers prevented the protesters holding slogans, “Death
to aggressor”, “Respect for our state and nation”, “Take Armenian
criminals to international court”, from approaching the Ministry
building. The police also prevented the protesters from reading out a
declaration they adopted but allowed them to submit it to the
ministry. WAPFP initially intended to hold similar protest actions in
front of several ministries and embassies of NATO member-states in
Baku, including the USA, Great Britain, France, Germany, Poland,
Italy and Greece, before August 10.

The party members also plan to hold a picket in front of the Ministry
of Justice demanding that their party be registered.

Mayor sued
However, on Tuesday WAPFP postponed the protest actions for three
days. The party has sued Mayor of Baku Hajibala Abutalibov following
the refusal of the mayor’s office to sanction the actions. According
to the WAPFP deputy chairman Elchin Mirzabayli, the lawsuit was filed
to the Sabayil district court on the grounds that the Mayor violated
the provisions of the law on freedom of gatherings. Mirzabayli added
that the court does not issue a fair ruling, the party will continue
protest actions. WAPFP, founded early this year, along with two other
entities, the Popular Front Party “reformers” and the Popular Front
Party “classics”, considers itself the legal successor of the Popular
Front Party of Azerbaijan (PFPA), which was chaired by the
ex-president of Azerbaijan Abulfaz Elchibay prior to his demise.
WAPFP is currently chaired by parliament member Gudrat Hasanguliyev.