In recent days, people of the Islamic faith have been arrested en masse in Azerbaijan with drug charges. These arrests are carried out throughout the country – both in the capital and in various regions. According to unofficial information, the number of arrested religious believers reached about 400 people.
According to the Muslim Union Movement (MUM), 27 members of the organization were arrested in the last three months. All those arrested were also charged with drugs.
The mass arrest of religious believers in Azerbaijan began in January, after the armed attack on the Azerbaijani embassy in Iran. At that time, the Ministry of Internal Affairs announced that more than 45 “Iranian spies” were detained, but no detailed information was given about the details of this operation. From the words of relatives and lawyers of the detainees, it became clear that they were arrested on drug charges.
The second wave of arrests was observed in the first half of March. At that time, more than 30 believers were arrested on drug charges in the country within three days.
The latest wave of mass arrests against believers began after the armed attack on MP Fazil Mustafa on March 28. Official Baku has openly assumed the role of Iran in this incident. Press secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Aykhan Hajizadeh, said that the initial traces of the investigation of the terrorist act against Fazil Mustafa show that the incident was linked to Iran.
Rufat Safarov, executive director of the “Defense Line” human rights organization, told Meydan TV that mass arrests of believers in Azerbaijan are carried out against the background of worsening relations with Iran. According to the human rights defender, the Azerbaijani state oppresses its citizen due to bad relations with another state, which is unacceptable:
” I do not rule out that there may be those under the influence of external forces among those detained. But because of this, filling all religious people with drugs en masse in a penitentiary is not the way out. Every deed should have its proof and its punishment. Otherwise, what is the reason for detaining religious people and filling them with detention centers on drug charges?” Rufat Safarov said.
Safarov also recalled that the rights of religious people arrested on drug charges were violated:
“Where are the rights and freedoms given to these citizens of Azerbaijan by the Constitution and laws? The unfortunate situation is that even people who know the state of the investigation and the court in this country, lynch and defame the arrested believers. Where is the presumption of innocence?”
Elshad Hajiyev, head of the media and public relations department of the Press Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, told Meydan TV that he was not aware of the arrest of 400 people.