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27 Jun 2023

Azerbaijan: Crackdown on environmental protest against gold mine tailing dam continues, as activists detained & movement restricted in nearby community

On June 20, a demonstration was held in the village of Soyudlu, in Gadabay District. Locals gathered in the village center and later moved towards the local police station in protest against the planned construction of the second artificial lake meant to hold waste from the nearby Gadabay gold mine. As a result of police crackdown riot police sprayed a chemical irritant directly into the faces of several older female protesters. According to eyewitnesses, at least seven people were detained and placed in detention for 20 days, and one was fined 1500 manats (about $880). One of the villagers said other detainees were beaten with a truncheon. In addition to the crackdown on village residents, one journalist has been detained, and three others forcibly removed from the village of Soyudlu after covering the protests there. Two social activists were also detained after they made critical social media posts about the police response to the protests.

In July 2023, the Azerbaijani government suspended the operation of a gold mine after a month of locals' protests.