Top opposition member Ibrahim in pretrial detention
On Tuesday, an Azerbaijani court on ruled that main opposition Popular Front Party (PFPA) top member be remanded over his involvement in the demonstration held in support of military forces on 14 July.
Mammad Ibrahim, who is accused of violating public order and using force against a local government officer, will remain in pretrial detention for four months.
Ibrahim's sentence came days after his son Mehdi Ibrahimov was detained in Baku.
The party said 36 of its activists were detained over the past two weeks and a criminal case was launched against sixteen of them. Another eleven were sentenced to 30 days of administrative detention on charges of violating quarantine rules. Though some of them were released, the fate of the others was not clear, it added.
The party members, most of whom were arrested after the rally held in support of the army, were accused of violating the quarantine lockdown, spreading the coronavirus, and provoking disorder in society.
The PPFA refuted the accusations, calling them false and fabricated.
The party chairman Ali Karimli told Meydan TV that the arrests were “repression” against the party under supervision of President Ilham Aliyev.
“We said that we stand with our state and army. But instead we were met with an inadequate response [from the government, which] stated that the Popular Front Party was an even worse enemy [than Armenia]… [and that] it must be destroyed as a political force,” Karimli said in a talk with Meydan TV.
Azerbaijani authorities launched a criminal case against some participants of a large demonstration held on 14 July, when hundreds came together to rally in support of Azerbaijan's military forces amid an escalation in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with neighboring Armenia.
During the protest, a group entered the parliament building but was quickly removed by police, who used water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd.
On 15 July, President Ilham Aliyev blamed the PFPA for provoking the demonstrators in a speech at a cabinet meeting.
“Some opposition groups, including representatives of the Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan, infiltrated the crowd and tried to incite people to take part in illegal actions,” Aliyev said.
Karimli added that instead of utilizing public rallies against Armenia's armed forces, the authorities used them against the PFPA.
“The aim is to eliminate the real opposition in the country.”
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