Police raids, aggression and depression: the weekend quarantine in Azerbaijan
On the morning of June 8, police raided a residential complex in Baku.
People were arrested right from their apartments and taken away, wringing their hands, without even being given the opportunity to get dressed.
The day before, they had thrown garbage and plastic bottles at police officers who were detaining a local resident for violating the quarantine regulations.
This is the result of the “weekend quarantine” in Azerbaijan. On Saturday and Sunday (June 6-7), residents of large cities were forbidden from leaving their homes for any reason whatsoever; even all stores and even pharmacies were closed.
The authorities used this measure to try to stop the spread of COVID-19 infection. Their experiment failed. Home confinement combined with the abuses of power by police provoked aggression, depression and panic among the population.
Official statistics show that there are currently 7,553 reported cases of coronavirus in Azerbaijan. 4,149 people have recovered, 88 have died, 3,316 are still in treatment.
For two days, residents of several large cities and the entire Absheron Peninsula were not permitted to leave their houses, even to throw out trash, walk their dog, or buy headache or heartburn medicine. Police cars poured into empty yards and detained violators, often treating them as dangerous criminals. In addition, the ambulance refused to go out on calls.
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Over the course of these two days, social media users posted several videos of policeman chasing after citizens. Closer to night time, some people crawled out onto the roofs of their houses to get some air or even risked going out into the courtyard. The weekend quarantine ended up being very stressful for citizens of Azerbaijan.
On Monday, June 8, everything seemed to go back to normal—public transport had begun working again, as well as all shops, cafes, restaurants, and people returned to work.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs thanked citizens for their “understanding and compliance with the rules.”
But judging by social media, citizens themselves have not yet gotten over the events of the past two days. Footage of “rebellious” residents being detained left many in shock.
11 in total were detained. No official charges have yet been pressed.
“Those who carried out illegal mass detainments in the housing complex must be punished immediately. The long-standing social contract (limiting human rights in exchange for the miserly distribution of oil revenues) is already no longer in effect and the country risks becoming a police state,” says leader of the opposition Republican Alternative Party Ilgar Mammadov.
But the police also have their supporters:
“No one who followed the rules were detained by the police, they didn’t drag them out of their houses. You might think the police enjoy working on Sundays in 35 C degree heat. They are just fulfilling their duty. And throwing trash on their heads is, at the very least, classless,” writes journalist Sabukhi Mammadli.
It is still unknown whether authorities plan to enforce the Sunday lockdown at the end of this week. Whether the police will learn from their mistakes and shortcomings is also unclear.