Azerbaijan police break up protest against abuse in army
Protesters shout during a rally against the death of soldiers in the national Azerbaijan's army in Baku on March 10, 2013. Azeri police on Sunday arrested about 60 protesters demonstrating against the deaths of 15 soldiers who died in accidents or were allegedly abused by their officers in the past two months. AFP PHOTO / TOFIK BABAYEVPolice in Azerbaijan arrested dozens of protesters who rallied against violence in the military yesterday, firing water cannon and rubber bullets to disperse crowds.
The protest was one of a series triggered by the death of a conscript, Jeyhun Gubadov, on Jan. 7 at a military barracks. His death added to a string of other non-combat deaths under murky circumstances in the military in recent years.
The Defense Ministry said initially Gubadov had died of a heart attack, but his family believed he was beaten to death and four soldiers were arrested after an investigation was opened. About 500 people, mosty young opposition activists, gathered in the capital Baku shouting “No to deaths in the army,” some holding portraits of dead soldiers.
Police use water-cannons to disperse
people during a rally against
soldiers death in the national
Azerbaijan's army in Baku on
March 10, 2013. AFP PHOTO /
Western governments and human rights groups accuse Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev, who succeeded his father in 2003, of rigging elections and of clamping down on dissent. Protests are often swiftly broken up by security forces.
Buoyed by oil wealth, Azerbaijan has increased military spending to demonstrate its military power to its neighbor and arch foe Armenia. Two countries are locked in a dispute over the region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Azeri soldier killed
Meanwhile, Armenian forces at the weekend killed an Azerbaijani soldier on Nagorno-Karabakh frontline, the Defense Ministry in Baku said today.
The soldier, 19-year-old Ali Abilov, “has been killed on March 10 (Sunday) in Fizuli district as a result of ceasefire violation by the Armenian side,” the ministry said in a statement.
Frequent clashes between Armenian and Azerbaijani troops along their border and in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, with 15 people reportedly killed last year from both sides, highlight the risk of a fresh conflict between the arch-foes.