LGBT+ rights organisation, Nefes LGBT Azerbaijan Alliance has released further details about the arrest and torture of gay and transgender people in Baku.
Activist Javid Nabiyev—who is now based in Germany—has been in contact with victims and has released a new video describing the tactics local police are using.
Nabiyev says that—according to his sources—people suspected of being gay or trans have been held in police station basements, had their heads shaved and received electric shock torture.
The video includes photos that show electro shock marks on the body of one victim who has since been released from detention. Nabiyev adds that authorities are determining people’s sexuality or gender based on their hair and clothing.
“Another person got arrested during the day time because of how he looks, how he dresses differently from others," he says.
"And actually, he is not an LGBT+ person but at the police station, when he denied he was gay, police tortured him with electro shock,” says Nabiyev.
Nabiyev has also uploaded a Skype video with one man in Baku—who wears a scarf to protect his identity—who describes how he was targeted by police in the city centre.
"Police passed nearby me. I was with my female friend and a police officer looked at me, several times he passed by me. Then he asked ‘Who is this girl?'.
“Already I understood what was going on, I was holding her hand. Police asked for my ID card.
“They said, 'Why are you dressed like that, why is your hair so long?'"
The man says it was fortunate he and his friend had been discussing the recent arrests and decided to hold hands and pretend they were engaged.
The man also confirms that authorities are using dating apps in an attempt to entrap the LGBT+ community. He says they set up profiles and try to set up meetings in expensive hotels, sending photos that are “clearly not their own”.
Groups including Human Rights Watch and ILGA have condemned the mass arrests of the LGBT+ community in Azerbaijan—a country that decriminalised homosexuality in September 2000.
“Attempts by the authorities in Azerbaijan to downplay these detentions are not convincing,” commented Evelyne Paradis, ILGA-Europe Executive Director.
“There is no justification for this indiscriminate targeting of people perceived to be members of the LGBTI community. It is a clear and serious breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.”
Human Rights Watch says there needs to be a “thorough, independent, and impartial investigation into these serious allegations".
"And instead of justifying the raids, the government of Azerbaijan should take the necessary steps to protect LGBT people from discrimination."
The Azerbaijani Ministry of Affairs has stated that “sex minority members have never been persecuted” but that “they are not exempt from liability for unlawful acts”.