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Police In Azerbaijan Threaten Protesters With Psychiatric Confinement

Authorities in Azerbaijan have threatened to commit a 72-year-old man, Ismayil Huseynov, and his wife, Khanimzar, to a psychiatric hospital after protesting what they say was police violence, their son has told RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani Service.

The couple was objecting to police treatment of their son, Elvin, and other teenagers on December 26 after they were detained on suspicion of cutting the electricity to a facility where a government-organized holiday party was taking place.

Police released the teenagers the same day after reportedly beating them and shaving their heads.

The reincarnation of Soviet psychiatry is one more example of where the country is going now.
On December 27, parents in the Azerbaijani exclave of Naxcivan said they would renounce their Azerbaijani citizenship if the scare tactics continued.

The Huseynovs and other parents have since been taken to the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Naxcivan, where they have been interrogated and told to stop talking to the media. Police threatened to send them to a psychiatric hospital after they refused, Elvin Huseynov said.

Elvin was detained again today at a post office in the exclave as he was trying to send a telegram about police violence to the speaker of Naxcivan's parliament. Huseynov says police did not allow him to send the message.

Naxcivan's Ministry of Internal Affairs has refused to comment on the issue.

Political analyst Ilgar Mammadov told RFE/RL that the case reminds him of the Soviet practice of forced "treatment" in psychiatric hospitals, which was widely used as a mean of silencing opponents.

"The reincarnation of Soviet psychiatry is one more example of where the country is going now," he said.

A similar incident happened in Naxcivan in 2007, when 71-year-old opposition activist Alasgar Ismayilov was committed after he sent a letter to President Ilham Aliyev about rights violations.

(by Malahat Nasibova of RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service)