Pro-war protests in Azerbaijan spun out of control
Pro-war protests in Baku spun out of control on the night from July 14 – 15, after several thousand protesters broke into the building of the parliament. Although police managed to chase protesters away by tear gas, riot illustrates how difficult it will be for Azerbaijani authorities to control the patriotic fervour that has arisen as a result of recent deadly clashes on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border.
The crowd of approximately 30.000 Azerbaijanis demanding war with Armenia formed in Baku on July 14, after many residents of Azerbaijani capital took to the streets to meet the funeral procession bringing the bodies of servicemen who died in bilateral artillery and sniper fire on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.
The march passed through the city centre and past the presidential administration building, as people chanted the slogans “Karabakh is ours,” “End the quarantine and start the war,” “Commander-in-Chief, give us weapons,” and “Karabakh or death”.
At approximately 4 am protesters entered the building of Azerbaijani parliament, Milli Majlis, calling for “mobilization” and caused minor damage. Fifteen minutes later the building was cleared by police using batons and teargas.
Other marchers tried to convince the police to join them. “When Armenians rose up, their police were on their side, but you came to beat us,” one shouted. “They are worse than Armenians,” shouted another, Eurasianet.org wrote stressing that protest was not covered by local state-friendly media.
During the demonstration, seven police officers were injured, two cars were ruined, and 14 more were damaged, according to a joint statement from the prosecutor general’s office and the Interior Ministry.
Zaur Shiriyev, a Baku-based analyst for the International Crisis Group, told Eurasianet that the protest is both a “double-edged sword and a cold shower” for the government” since it is “first time in decades” that Azerbaijan has seen a “genuinely grassroots expression, on such a large scale, of the frustration about developments on the front line”. The Government in Baku now faces a dilemma, how to satisfy calls for harsher action against Armenia, if they will continue to rise, added Shiriyev.