In mid-October, the mother of Nura, a transgender woman from a conservative village outside Baku, got an unexpected call from the precinct police office. “Your son is homosexual,” the officer said. “Are you going to renounce your son?”
The mother, who asked not to be named, said she refused. “Why should I do that,” she told the officer. Shortly after, Nura's brother was called in to the police station and made to sign a statement confirming that the family did not renounce Nura.
“This is pressure on my family. I really don’t understand what the police want from me,” Nura told Eurasianet.org. She is now in Turkey, where she fled after a large-scale crackdown on LGBT Azerbaijanis in September.
She was one of about 100 people arrested in a two-week series of raids in Baku. She said she was interrogated, beaten and tortured at the Organized Crime Unit, a branch of the Interior Ministry tasked with combatting terrorism, human trafficking, kidnapping, extortion, and other organized criminal activity.
“I would like to live in normal place where trans people are not being persecuted. But at the same time I cannot leave my family behind in Azerbaijan,” Nura said. “I’m afraid right now to go back, because the threat is not over, the police are still there and looking for everyone who is hidden or who has left the country.”
After an international outcry, the Azerbaijani authorities released all of the LGBT detainees in early October.
Eurasianet interviewed several of those who were caught up in the raids and found that pressure on them has continued. Read more via Eurasianet