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Reported LGBT purge in Azerbaijan Reveals Canada must do more

30 Sep 17
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Human-rights activists state Azerbaijani authorities have launched a purge against LGBT citizens, aping their counterparts in Chechnya.

This newest persecution points to the need for Canada and other Western nations to find ways to respond when authorities attack sexual minorities in their own country, especially now that such activities seem to be spreading.

The Nefes LGBT Azerbaijan Alliance has printed an abysmal study on the organization’s Facebook page which says police have started rounding up people thought to be homosexual or transgender.

“Detainees were subjected to beatings, verbal abuse, and forced medical examinations, in addition to transsexual women’s heads being forcibly shaven,” the report claims. “Many were released just after giving up the addresses of fellow members of the LGBTI community, that were then in turn arrested and subjected to the identical treatment.”

The report estimates testimony from several anonymous sources. In accordance with Victim B: “I was with my buddy in Old Town. Suddenly police officers came to us and to place us in automobile and took to police station at Nasimi District. Probably I am feminine looking guy and that is why they could recognize me. I’d two-day detention. During both of these days three police officers were beating me so poorly, I lost my consciousness.”

Javid Nabiyev, the author of this report, left Azerbaijan two decades back and now lives in Germany. He told The Globe and Mail in an email exchange his interviews and research suggested that over 100 people were detained. People, he said, are fleeing in fear to Georgia and Turkey.

The New York-based news organization EurasiaNet reports 46 confirmed arrests since Sept. 15.

The Trudeau government responded quickly to news of the purge.

“Canada is concerned by the recent reports of arrests, detentions and violence targeting LGBTQ2 individuals in Azerbaijan,” Adam Austen, spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, said in a statement on Friday.

“Azerbaijan has a duty to safeguard the rights of all its citizens … we call for the security of people in Azerbaijan whose sexual orientation makes them a target for persecution.”

Nominally, Azerbaijan is a secular democracy where same-sex activity is lawful. In fact, the Muslim population is extremely intolerant of homosexuality and the authoritarian government suppresses dissent.

On Sept. 20, an Azerbaijani newspaper reported that the opposition Justice Party supported the pogrom.

“The Western circles, that are the sources of immorality and illness, that were cursing God’s name for quite a very long time, have been catastrophic our national customs under the name of human rights,” a party leader said. (Translation by Google.)

The Ministry of Internal Affairs denies any purge, but advised another book that prostitutes and others “of unconventional sexual orientation,” was temporarily detained after complaints from local citizens, and was analyzed for the presence of sexually transmitted diseases.

Western human-rights organizations have thus far been unable to independently confirm the extent of the abuse. But there’s general alarm at the prospect that, mere weeks after the Chechen government conducted a purge of sexual minorities, a state in exactly the same region seems to have established a copycat purge.

As The Globe recently reported, the Trudeau government secretly spirited several dozen homosexual Chechens who were in danger to Canada as refugees. A similar program might be required again, this time for Azerbaijan.

Critics note that LGBT individuals from Saudi Arabia, Uganda and a number of other countries are at risk of persecution and even death at the hands of the country, but the Canadian government doesn’t seek to rescue them.

But sexual minorities fleeing such nations have strong claims for refugee status.

There seems to be growing need for some sort of rapid response which may be triggered when one regime or another starts a sudden purge from its LGBT population, placing them at risk, perhaps through an international forum like the United Nations.

For the time being, the Trudeau government has allowed Azerbaijani police know that Canada is watching them. The question is how this nation will react, if things get seriously worse.

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

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