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Protest in Baku against ‘Iran–Armenia military production’

19 July 2019
The protest in Baku (Musavat Party / Facebook)

Around 40 people gathered on Wednesday in front of the Iranian Embassy in Baku to protest reports of joint production of military equipment by Iran and Armenia and the arrest of an Azerbaijani–Iranian activist. The rally was soon dispersed by the police.

The rally was organised by the youth wing of the opposition Musavat Party. The organisers told OC Media that nine people were arrested, but that all of them were released shortly thereafter.  

The protesters were chanting ‘Freedom!’ moving from the Iranian Embassy in the direction of the central Icherisheher metro station. 

Elman Guliyev, the head of the Musavat Youth Organisation, told OC Media that the protest was held in the form of an unauthorised picket. According to him, the Musavat Youth Organisation informed the Baku City Executive Power about the action, but on 15 July the city administration refused them permission to hold a picket.

Footage from the protest (Radio Azadliq)

‘The Azerbaijani government avoids expressing its position. However, it also carries out reprisals against those who express their position. This is a situation where it is impossible to close our eyes to the joint production of military equipment by Armenia and Iran. But we see that the government of Azerbaijan does not oppose this’,  said Guliyev. 

Armenian-Iranian ‘military cooperation’

On 2 July, several Azerbaijani media outlets reported that Iran and Armenia were jointly displaying a radar system at a military exhibition in Russia. They said that the Najim-802 radar system was displayed by the two countries at the ‘Army-2019’ Forum of military equipment on 25–30 June in the village of Kubinka on the outskirts of Moscow. 

They cited Russian news agency Regnum, which reported that the Najim-802 was developed by the Yerevan Scientific Research Institute of Communications.

Mher Markosyan, the director of Yerevan Telecommunication Research Institute, confirmed to OC Media that their Institute took part in Army 2019 forum presenting the Najm-802. Markosyan denied that Iran took part in their presentation. 

‘We presented the model of radar station from our Institute. We took part in the development of the radar station’, he said. 

Asked whether the institute produced the radar station jointly with Iran, Margosyan said that they contributed ‘a percentage, we had a higher percentage [of development]’. 

A picture supposedly of the Najm-802 (top) and an unidentified missile system posted on the Iranian Military's Facebook page. (Iran Military / Facebook)

Tofig Yagublu, another activist from the Musavat Party, told OC Media that the joint military production was ‘unacceptable’.

‘Armenia is an occupier country, and Iran is a [] neighbouring Muslim country, just like our country. Almost half of its population consists of Turkic people, and these Turkic people unequivocally support the side of the Republic of Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict’, Yagublu said.

‘Why should Iran give military support to an occupying country? The occupying country should be subject to sanctions and embargoes, as is the case with Russia from the side of Western countries […] In this case, Iran gives an impetus to the occupying country’, he added.

On Thursday the Iranian Embassy in Azerbaijan told Azerbaijan’s Trend News Agency in a statement that ‘the information disseminated recently by some news websites of Azerbaijan on military-technical cooperation between Iran and Armenia is groundless’. 

‘The embassy, ​​insisting on the need to develop and maintain cooperation with neighbouring Azerbaijan, stated that Iran has always been a supporter of the peaceful settlement of the Armenia–Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh problem within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan’, the statement said. 

An Azerbaijani–Iranian activist detained

Elman Guliyev from the Musavat youth organisation, who was among those arrested, told OC Media that they were also protesting the arrest in Iran of Azerbaijani–Iranian activist Abbas Lisani. 

According to Guliyev, police officers confiscated their placards protesting the detention of Lisani and other ethnic Azerbaijanis. 

Abbas Lisani (Wikipedia)

Lisani, an activist for the rights of Iran’s ethnic Azerbaijani population, was sentenced to 8 years in prison on 8 July by an Iranian court. Another protest in support of Lisani was held in Baku on 11 July. 

Lisani was detained on 15 January in Ardabil Central Prison in Iran. According to local human rights activists, he went on hunger strike on 27 May in protest against being deprived of documents related to his prosecution. 

Lisani has been arrested several times since 2003. In 2007, Amnesty International recognised him as a prisoner of conscience.