Demonstrations in Central Baku

Jul 16, 2020

On the night of 14 July 2020, an estimated 30,000 people staged demonstrations in central Baku to support Azerbaijani troops in the disputed area of Naghorno-Karabakh. Demonstrators gathered at Azadliq Square and marched to the National Assembly building while chanting slogans and demanding that the government mobilize the military to recapture the disputed area. A group of protesters entered the building, smashed windows and caused minor damage to the facility. Security personnel removed the intruders and deployed tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd outside of the building. A government official stated that seven police officers were injured in the violence and authorities arrested seven demonstrators. The demonstrations occurred despite a coronavirus-related prohibition on mass gatherings in place in Azerbaijan.

Analyst Comment: The current protests followed clashes between Armenian and Azerbaijani troops on 14 July around the Tavush region in northeastern Armenia — located approximately 300 km (190 mi) north of the disputed Naghorno-Karabakh area — during which an Azerbaijani military general and five other Azerbaijani soldiers were killed. The latest fighting broke out in the region on 11 July and at least 16 people — including 11 Azerbaijani soldiers and one civilian as well as four Armenian soldiers — have been killed so far. The disputed Naghorno-Karabakh area has been under the control of ethnic Armenians supported by the Armenian government since the end of a war in 1994, although the area is internationally recognized as Azerbaijani territory.

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