HRANA News Agency – On the eve of the fifth anniversary of protests in Azerbaijan Province, a large number of cities in this region are witnessing the presence of security forces in the streets and main squares.
According to a report by Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), tense security environment clearly hangs over the cities of Tabriz, Ahar, Marand and Maragheh. Eyewitnesses have reported the presence of special units and military and security forces throughout the region including town squares, streets and universities.
Prior to May 22, 2011 which coincides with the fifth anniversary of protests in Azerbaijan Province, law enforcement and security agents have systematically begun to arrest political and civil activists in Azerbaijan.
Last year, eleven activists were arrested during the same time, and each one of them was sentenced to five years in prison. Two well-known political activists, Alireza Farshi and Sima Didar, were amongst the detainees who are currently serving their prison terms.
Additionally, amongst tens of activists who have been arrested and summoned to court are Ibrahim Nuri, Siamak Koshi, Saeid Naimi, Ayoub Shiri, Sima and Mehdi Derakhshan, Akbar Azad, Sima Didar, Alireza Farshi, Hadi Hamidi Shafiq.
As the fifth anniversary of protests in Azerbaijan approaches, security forces have attempted to confiscate satellite dishes in some of the cities. Since this morning, access to Internet has also been interrupted. Eye witnesses have reported to HRANA that isolated clashes in streets surrounding the University of Tabriz have occurred, and a few citizens have been arrested in the city of Tabriz.
Furthermore, according to an eyewitness, heavy presence of law enforcement agents are such that there are four policemen stationed in every 100 meters. As this report was being prepared, people continue to gather in the streets.
Beginning on May 22, 2006, for a period of one week, various cities in Azerbaijan witnessed widespread protests and clashes in response to a newspaper article that had published an insult to Azeri citizens. Tens of people were arrested or killed during these demonstrations.