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Mexico City removes Azeri leader's statue


An activist takes part in a demonstration to demand the release of Moroccan political prisoners in Guadalajara, January 26, 2013. The demonstration was called in support of Sahrawi prisoners who have been in jail in Rabat, Morocco, since 2010. The Sahrawi prisoners are demanding their right to freedom as well as the independence of the territories occupied by Morocco in Western Sahara, according to the Sahrawi resistance organization. Reuters

Mexico: Mexico City's government removed a bronze statue of Azerbaijan's late leader in the dead of night Saturday, after critics said "no gracias" to a monument for a man accused of human rights violations.

The large likeness of former president Heydar Aliyev was whisked away from the capital's Reforma Avenue while a new home is found for it elsewhere in the city.

The embassy of Azerbaijan had paid $5 million to spruce up two city parks and place the statue in a corner of the sprawling Chapultepec Park in August.

But the statue's appearance angered rights activists who said it had no place in a city that boasts monuments for figures such as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King.
Critics say the former KGB officer was a strongman who cracked down on dissent, jailed opponents and stifled the media during his 1993-2003 rule.

Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera had announced on Tuesday that the statue would be moved elsewhere, following the recommendation of a panel of foreign policy experts.

The city government expressed the "greatest respect for the people of Azerbaijan" and said that dialogue would continue with the embassy to find a final home for the statue.

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