According to a Human Rights Watch report, many of the detainees were released on Tuesday (3 October). A lawyer said police began to release the people last night (2 October).
Yesterday, the Interior Ministry and the Prosecutor General’s Office confirmed the arrests in a joint statement.
They affirm the arrests targeted people who disrupted public order and threatened public health. The police checked everyone arrested for venereal diseases.
‘Media reports of alleged attacks on sexual minorities and violation of their rights are unfounded,’ the statement put forth. ‘We would like to note once again that the purpose of such action is to bring to justice those have violated public order and to prevent dangerous contagious diseases from spreading.’
‘Bogus and dangerous’
Graeme Reid, the LGBT director of HRW, does not believe the reasoning.
‘Official justifications for this anti-gay crackdown are as bogus and dangerous as the charges police have used to arrest people,’ he said. ‘The government’s human rights and public health obligations mean they should focus on protecting and empowering this marginalized minority, not humiliating and isolating them.’
Lawyers, as well, say there were ‘numerous procedural violations’ during the arrests and detention periods.
Accounts given to HRW also reveal the nature of the arrests.
‘On September 19, my friend received a Whatsapp message that a gay guy, whom he did not know before, wanted to meet him to have sex,’ Ramin, using a pseudonym, told HRW. ‘When he went to the agreed-upon place in the city center, he was taken away by police immediately.’
Despite the release of detainees, the HRW advises a thorough investigation is still warranted. They also state ‘those responsible for arbitrary arrests and, in particular, for torture and other ill-treatment should be held accountable’.
Rachel Denber of HRW told Gay Star News: ‘Azeraijan’s international partners should urge Azerbaijan to end the crackdown, release all those detained; and ensure there are no repeat episodes.’