More than 40 people were arrested and beaten up at the Fountain Square in Baku on December 1 at a rally in support of opposition activist Saleh Rustamov, who has been on a hunger strike in prison for 26 days. Well-known opposition politician Tofig Yagublu was severely beaten, relatives are still searching for young activist Rustam Ismayilbeyli.
20 people were taken to police stations, the rest were brought to the suburbs and released there. This was announced by the representative of the Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan Tezekhan Miralamli, adding that the organisers of the rally had been detained before it started.
Who is Saleh Rustamov
Former head of Azerbaijan’s Gadabay region and veteran of the first Karabakh war, Saleh Rustamov worked in Russia and transferred small amounts of money from there to support the Popular Front. In May 2018, he arrived in Azerbaijan and was arrested. He was sentenced to seven years and three months in prison on charges of drug trafficking. The Popular Front claims that Rustamov is a victim of political repression.
In early November 2021, the Azerbaijani parliament adopted an amnesty law, which includes the participants of the first and second Karabakh wars, however, Rustamov was not included to the amnesty list. On November 6, he went on a hunger strike in protest.
On November 19, several non-governmental organizations, human rights activists and the media appealed to the president with a request to release Rustamov. Doctors of the prison hospital warn of the grave condition of the activist. Rustamov has recently announced his intention to go on a dry hunger strike. On November 30, several political parties in Azerbaijan demanded the release of Rustamov.
Among the detainees are well-known opposition politician and representative of the National Council of Democratic Forces Tofig Yagublu, his daughter Nigar Khazi, member of the women’s organization of the Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan Dilara Miriyev, member of the Supreme Majlis of the Popular Front Party Ilham Huseyn, human rights activist Zafar Akhmedov, member of the youth organization of the Musavat party Ayhan Hajibat and others.
Photos of police violence are being spread on social media: