Even with no specifics yet available for Azerbaijan’s “day of rage,” the government is persisting with a crackdown on youth group activists and Facebook users in the run-up to unsanctioned youth demonstrations expected for March 11.
The idea for such a protest first went public on March 6, when a group of six Azerbaijani youth activists set up a Facebook group that called for large-scale anti-government demonstrations on March 11 throughout Azerbaijan. “Are you ready to join together to break up the dictatorial regime in Azerbaijan in a civilized manner and without provocations?” the group’s Facebook page asks.
The number of Azerbaijani Facebook users appears to have surged in recent months. The Facebook traffic-tracking website Socialbakers.com reports that Azerbaijan’s Facebook users increased by 4.6 percent in February to reach 324,880 people, more than three-quarters of whom are between 18 and 34 years old.
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Shahin Abbasov is a freelance reporter based in Baku and a board member of the Open Society Assistance Foundation-Azerbaijan.