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Feminist march in Baku: chanting over shouts of police

The Azerbaijani feminist movement held a demonstration dedicated to International Women’s Day, which is celebrated on March 8 in Azerbaijan. The organizers wanted to draw public attention to the numerous domestic murders of women, early marriages and other gender issues. The police tried to disperse the rally, using violence against the participants and detaining some of them.

An authorised tradition

Feminist marches are a new trend in Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijani feminists held the first march in defense of women’s rights on March 8, 2019.

The second took place on October 20, 2019. The first time the procession was dispersed, the second – most of the participants were able to walk to the end of the route despite police interference.

Both times the organizers of the procession tried to coordinate it with the city authorities, but were refused. This was the case this time as well – the authorities did not approve of their desire to organize a rally in the city center and offered them to hold it in the suburban village of Lokbatan.

To this the feminists replied that they did not apply for permission: they simply informed the authorities that the procession would take place in the city center.

A violent holiday

About 50 people attended the demonstration. They planned to march along the central walking path through the city, and read out their demands at the end of the route.

As is usually the case with unauthorized demonstrations in Baku, an hour before it began, policemen (including plainclothes cops) gathered around the venue and lined up in official cars and buses.

As soon as the demonstration began, they immediately began to break it up. Participants and even journalists were brutally pushed aside, beaten, forcefully shoved into the subway, and detained. According to preliminary data, about 10 people were detained.

The protesters divided into several groups and continued along the route, trying to break through the police line. The confrontation lasted about an hour.

Despite all this, the organizers of the demonstration are pleased with the result and believe that they have achieved their goal.