A gay man was beaten, electrocuted and detained for nine days in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan.
The man, who asked only to be identified as Xeyal, said authorities are randomly arresting and torturing LGBTI people in the country’s capital, Baku.
He told Buzzfeed: ‘We were captives in our home country.’
And his story is not uncommon. The number of people captured is unclear but Samad Ismayilov, president of Minority Azerbaijan, estimates up to 100.
Xeyal said he is too frightened to contact a lawyer. He also cancelled his phone plan and fled his home, worrying he’d be arrested again.
He said he was beaten with a baton on the head, knees, and arms, as well as electric shocks applied to his head and body more than 30 times.
Xeyal was also tortured into revealing names of former sexual partners and forced to sign documents with reading them.
‘They treat you like you’re a murderer’
Another eyewitness testimony (who wants to remain anonymous) confirmed the torture and interrogations.
He told Gay Star News: ‘They make others talk and give them the addresses of their friends so they randomly come to your house and arrest you.
‘Also, they arrested most of them for 20-30 days.
‘And if you don’t give information about others, they call your family (which is the worst) or beat you,’ he revealed.
Ismayilov told Gay Star News: ‘Most of them are homeless now. Their landlords don’t want them back.’
He says he’s trying to raise awareness for the persecuted LGBTI people in Azerbaijan, some who can’t afford lawyers.
He’s currently working on an initiative to financially support them with ‘financial fees and court fees.’
President of the Nefes LGBT Azerbaijan Alliance, Javid Nabiyev, also confirmed the reports in a Facebook video.
He starts in the video: ‘Suddenly, without any clear reasons to us, police officers from the Ministry of Internal Affairs organized raids against gay and transexual people.
‘For sure we know that more than 50 people are arrested,’ he said.
The reason for the recent surge in raids is still unclear to attorneys and human rights activists.