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Aliyev Attacks “Scape Goats” Instead of Being Thankful 

“Azerbaijan’s Popular Front Party’s” 11 members have been arrested in Azerbaijan, 6 of which participated in the July 15 protests in Baku, reports Turan information agency with reference to Party deputy president, Seymur Hazi. 

Among the arrested persons are Asif Jusifli, Karabakh war veteran and Party board member, activists Farid Asadov, Semur Ahmedzade, Mananat Turan (Mahmarzayeva), Imanlin and Elvin Mamedovs. The reason of their arrests is participation in the mass protests on July 14-15 in Baku that were demanding a war against Armenia and a resignation of top military officials.

“Karabakh or War”, “Commander, Call for Mobilization”, “Freedom to Karabakh” were among the slogans with which the protest march commenced in central Baku on July 14 demanding an active war with Armenia, while it transformed into demanding top military resignations.

On July 14, at 4am in the morning, part of the protesters managed to storm the building of the Parliament. The police peacefully accompanying the thousands of protestors before this,  resorted to tear gas, batons and water cannons to disperse the protestors.

On July 15, after the protest, Ilham Aliyev characterized the protests as an assembly supporting the army and himself as Commander in Chief. In his speech, Aliyev welcomed the protests, but went on to blame the oppositional activists for making provocations.

Aliyev stated that the “provocateurs” were from among the Popular Front Party, characterizing them as the “5th column” and “internal anti-state enemies” against whom the attitude this time would be unprecedentedly strict and cruel.

Aliyev’s statements were followed with arrests. 

The Popular Front Party and National Council denied the allegations against themselves.

“Popular Front Party members did not participate in storming the parliament’s building. The authorities are using this as yet another means to repress the Party,” was mentioned in the Party’s deputy president’s statement. “Azerbaijan’s President’s statement is nothing but a shame. This is a blatant statement of repressions”

Shortly after the military escalation, the Popular Front and National Council called on the people to put aside political disagreements and stop criticizing the authorities. “Instead of thanking us, Aliyev has announced us the enemy,” said their statement.

Azerbaijan’s Internal Affairs Ministry refused to comment the arrests.

Popular Front is one of Azerbaijan’s main oppositional parties. It was established in 1988 as a nationalist democratic party. In 1992-1993, just before Heydar Aliyev took over the Presidency of Azerbaijan, the Popular Front Party’s President, Abdulfaz Elcibey was Azerbaijan’s president.