Azerbaijan: Academic, Critical Of Government, Detained
Gubad Ibadoghlu is a well-known Azerbaijani economist and politician. He is the chairperson of the Azerbaijan Democracy and Prosperity Movement, established in 2014 with a social-democratic platform, that has been arbitrarily denied registration as a political party by the Azerbaijani authorities. He was a senior visiting scholar at the London School of Economic and led the Economic Research Center, an NGO that conducted research on public finance management, good governance, and budget transparency. The Azerbaijani authorities forcibly closed the Economic Research Center and froze its bank accounts in 2014, as part of widespread restrictions on Azerbaijan’s civil society. Gubad Ibadoghlu went into political exile in 2017 but returned to Azerbaijan in 2023.
On 23 July, police officers detained Gubad Ibadoghlu and his wife while they were driving to meet youth activists from the Azerbaijan Democracy and Prosperity Movement in Sumgayit, a city that is about 40 kilometers from Baku. Four unmarked cars surrounded their vehicle at about 1pm and forced it to stop by ramming it from the front and the rear. According to their daughter, Zhala Bayramova, 20 plain-clothed officers “forced the couple out of their car, and physically assaulted them, then forced them into separate cars and drove them to the Interior Ministry’s Organized Crime Unit in Baku”. After being released at 7pm, Bayramova had multiple bruises to her arms, legs and back. Gubad Ibadoghlu has filed a complaint about their ill-treatment.
According to the Azerbaijani Ministry of Interior official statement made on 23 July, the arrest of several people, including Gubad Ibadoghlu, is a part of an operation against supporters of Fethullah Gülen, the exiled Turkish cleric who the Turkish authorities are seeking to prosecute, along with his supporters, under terrorism charges. Police allegedly seized US$ 40,000 in cash, amongst other things, from the office of the Economic Research Center, which Gubad Ibadoghlu hadn’t used. They also raided Gubad Ibadoghlu and Irada Baymarova’s home and detained Ibadoghlu’s brother, Gabid Baymalov. On 2 August, the Baku Court dismissed Ibadoghlu’s complaint regarding unlawful search of his home.
Gubad Ibadoghlu’s family have reported that he is held in a small cell with five other men, relying on tap water that is not safe to drink and prison food which is not adapted for his diabetes and other health conditions. His medical conditions include heart disease, type 2 diabetes, kidney diseases, jugular vein distention, stomach ulcers and severe lower back pain, and his health conditions are fast deteriorating. He is given his medication on an irregular schedule which increases his risk of a stroke and of developing further heart disease and other life-threatening conditions.
Gubad Ibadoghlu the author of numerous academic publications and articles critical of Azerbaijan and its international partners, including the EU which is not paying due attention to human rights violations in Azerbaijan and is reliant on it for gas supplies.