Azerbaijan: Jailed Academic’s Health Deteriorates

Gubad Ibadoghlu
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Gubad Ibadoghlu is a well-known Azerbaijani economist and politician. He is the chairperson of the Azerbaijan Democracy and Prosperity Movement, established in 2014 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 arbitrarily 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, to visit his family.

On 23 July, police officers arrested 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 kilometres from capital 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 child, 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, Irada 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 along with his supporters, have designated as “terrorist organization.” Police allegedly seized US$ 40,000 in cash, amongst other things, from the office of the Economic Research Center. They also raided Gubad Ibadoghlu and Irada Bayramova’s home and briefly detained Ibadoghlu’s brother, Gabid Baymalov. On 2 August, the Baku Court dismissed Ibadoghlu’s complaint regarding unlawful search of his home. The Azerbaijani authorities extended his pretrial detention by three months on 16 November, until 24 February 2024.

Gubad Ibadoghlu’s medical conditions include heart disease, type 2 diabetes, kidney diseases, jugular vein distention, stomach ulcers and severe lower back pain, and his health is fast deteriorating. According to his family, while his blood sugar levels and general health conditions have sharply worsened, he has not had appropriate medical examinations to determine the causes and the correct treatment plan. He is also not given some of the medication he was regularly taking before his arrest, while other medications are given on an irregular schedule which increases his risk of a stroke and of developing further heart disease and other life-threatening conditions.

The European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for Gubad Ibadoghlu’s release on 14 September 2023. The European Court of Human Rights acknowledging the imminent risk of irreparable harm also issued interim measures under Rule 39. (see above)

Gubad Ibadoghlu is the author of numerous academic publications and articles critical of Azerbaijan and its international partners, including the EU, COE.

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