Center for National and International Studies
“The reasons why the secular segment of the country does not defend the violated rights of religious people are fundamentally wrong and do not bode well for the future of the country…”
(Lack of ) Human Rights and Freedoms
The Committee for Protecting Gubad Ibadoglu‘s Rights has issued an official statement expressing grave concern. According to the statement, Gubad Ibadoglu, who is afflicted with diabetes and hypertension, has endured two weeks of incarceration marked by improper detention conditions. Disturbingly, the threat to Professor Ibadoglu‘s life has escalated to a critical point in recent days. In light of the heightened severity of his health issues, the detention center administration conducted an echocardiological evaluation of Gubad Ibadoglu‘s heart. The results revealed a worrisome expansion of the aorta root, which had grown from 37 mm to 41 mm over the past two weeks. This dramatic change underscores the perilous nature of the life-threatening situation. Medical experts confirm that once aortic aneurysm disease leads to such dangerous vessel dilation, reversing or regressing it becomes unfeasible. The primary focus of treatment in such cases is to prevent further expansion. It has been observed that Gubad Ibadoglu‘s blood pressure consistently registers at 150/100, and his blood sugar levels are two to three times above normal. This combination elevates the inevitable risk of rupturing the expanded portion of the aorta, thereby posing a substantial danger to his life.
The Defense Committee asserts that Professor Gubad Ibadoglu was subjected to an unjust conviction within the Kurdakhani detention center, stemming from baseless court orders and fabricated accusations. The Committee calls upon both international and local human rights organizations, as well as diplomatic representatives in the country, to urgently intervene and provide vital assistance to save Gubad Ibadoglu‘s life. Emphasizing the perilous risk his health predicament presents, the Committee appeals for his immediate release.
Gubad Ibadoglu, a distinguished economist, professor at LSE, and the Chairman of ADPR, was detained on July 23 following a political directive. Mr. Ibadoghlu and his wife, Irada Bayramli, encountered an unfortunate incident that day when their vehicle was intercepted by a group of 20 police officers dressed in civilian attire. The group subjected them to physical assault before handing them over to the police in the vicinity of Baku. Although Ms. Bayramli was subsequently released on the same day, Mr. Ibadoghlu found himself in a more precarious situation. He was subsequently ordered by a court to undergo a period of three months and 26 days in pretrial detention, based on unfounded allegations of corruption. Under the stipulation of Article 204.3.1 of the Criminal Code, he received a verdict of 3 months and 26 days of confinement. This specific article pertains to the offense of orchestrating, procuring, and vending a substantial quantity of counterfeit currency. The article in question outlines a potential prison sentence of up to 12 years for individuals found guilty of this crime.
The Editorial Board of the “Washington Post” has authored an extensive article shedding light on the wrongful apprehension of Professor Gubad Ibadoglu on fabricated charges. The article titled “The kleptocracy strikes back: An Azerbaijani economist should be freed” delves into the circumstances surrounding the arrest of Gubad Ibadoglu, questioning why the abundance of oil wealth failed to translate into democratic progress and economic prosperity, instead fostering corruption and kleptocracy during President Ilham Aliyev‘s tenure. It touches upon significant events, such as the freezing of NGOs’ bank accounts in Azerbaijan in 2014 and the suppression of political parties by the Aliyev administration. The article highlights that following Gubad Ibadoglu‘s arrest, he was accused of embezzling $40,000 in counterfeit currency from his office and of having connections with Fethullah Gulen, an exiled Turkish cleric. The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Azerbaijan, citing information from Turkey, a close ally, confirmed the arrest. The “Washington Post” dismisses these accusations as baseless, branding them as sheer nonsense. It contends that his detention’s primary motive revolves around the Azerbaijan Youth Education Fund, established in the UK last June, operating on a donation-based model. The article also underscores that from 2012 to 2014, Azerbaijan’s ruling elite surreptitiously employed tainted funds to influence European politicians, amass valuable assets, and engage in money laundering. This revelation was unveiled by the Consortium of Journalists Investigating Organized Crime and Corruption.
In a prominent European hub, Strasbourg, a group of Azerbaijani activists and exiled journalists held a rally calling for the release of political prisoners in Azerbaijan. At the event organized by Ganimat Zahid, an exiled journalist, activists gathered to voice their demands. Rahim Hajiyev, the Azadlig newspaper‘s editor and member of the AND Board of Directors, along with Natig Adilov and Sarvan Ahmadov from the APFP Presidium, also attended the rally. They decried the unjust incarcerations of Professor Gubad Ibadoglu, Chairman of the ADR party, Elkhan Aliyev of the APFP Organization Department, Nazim Beydamirli, a former MP and entrepreneur, as well as numerous young individuals, religious figures, and APFP activists. Drawing inspiration from this event, attendees urged political exiles residing in other European cities to organize similar rallies within their localities, advocating for the release of incarcerated political figures in Azerbaijan. In parallel to this effort, an event sharing the same purpose was held on the same day before the White House in Washington DC.
Shahmar Allahverdiyev, a veteran of the Second Karabakh War, has revealed that even though two years have elapsed since the war’s conclusion, he remains unable to secure his rightful veteran status and accompanying medals. He explained that he has made multiple appeals to the Ministry of Defense, yet has encountered frustratingly elusive outcomes.
ILGA-Europe, an independent, international non-governmental umbrella organisation has shared its latest index ranking the protection of LGBTQ+ rights in Europe. In this comprehensive assessment, Azerbaijan was positioned as the country with the worst situation, being the 49th nation on the list. In order to create country ranking, ILGA-Europe examines the laws and policies in 49 countries using 74 criteria, divided between seven thematic categories: equality and non-discrimination; family; hate crime and hate speech; legal gender recognition; intersex bodily integrity; civil society space; and asylumIn the segment pertaining to Azerbaijan, the organization highlights that the persistence of hate speech directed at LGBTQ+ individuals by media outlets, political figures, and religious leaders constitutes a significant ongoing issue within the country. The report also documents the existence of societal violence against LGBTQ+ individuals. A notable observation is the perceived lack of effective governmental efforts to ensure the protection of LGBTQ+ rights in Azerbaijan.
Political analyst Arastun Orujlu posted on Facebook discussing the recent arrests of religious individuals on drug-related charges. Multiple believers are facing what he refers to as a swift “trial” process on a daily basis. Orujlu argued that the absolute majority of accusations related to drugs in Azerbaijan have always been false and still are. Moreover, he also pointed out that It is no coincidence that this mass accusation against religious people is made, and it is intended to equate the concepts of religion and drugs, religious and drug addicts. He believes that the orchestrated mass accusations against religious adherents are a deliberate attempt to conflate religious devotion with drug involvement, effectively blurring the lines between the two. Orujlu underscores the perils of this widespread vilification of religious individuals, cautioning that beyond its current impact, it holds the potential to set a damaging precedent for the future. Not only does it pave the way for similar treatment of other groups, but it also serves dual insidious purposes: first, to sow divisions within society, and second, to exacerbate the radicalization of vulnerable fellow believers who are already marginalized and isolated. Orujlu predicts that this isolation and radicalization will subsequently exacerbate societal divides and polarization. “We have to see from now on how harmful this will be in turn. The reasons why the secular section of the country does not defend the violated rights of religious people are fundamentally wrong and do not bode well for the future of the country.” He criticizes the tendency to shy away from advocating for the rights of religious individuals out of fear of being labeled an “Iranian agent,” or due to an overly cautious or even negative view towards religious groups. He emphasizes that these attitudes ultimately undermine the defense of fundamental rights and have worrying implications for the nation’s future.
In recent days, at least 8 generals of the Ministry of Defense have been interrogated in connection with the ongoing court proceedings concerning the perpetrators of the Tartar massacre. Notably, some of these generals have even provided testimony during the court hearings. Based on statements aired on the AzerFreedon channel, it becomes evident that among the generals under investigation, there are individuals who have testified against Minister Zakir Hasanov and former Chief of General Staff Najmeddin Sadykov. Nevertheless, as of today, there is still no available information regarding the interrogation of senior figures within the “Military Prosecutor’s Office,” who are purportedly believed to be the primary orchestrators and perpetrators of the crime. Commenting on the ongoing trials, Arastun Orujlu said that the main perpetrators of the Tartar crimes occupy high-ranking positions, and there is little chance for them to be punished for their crimes in the near future. “At least an official investigation should have been carried out, and in fact, all of the mentioned criminals, without exception, should be in prisons today, receiving heavy punishments. But as I said, seeing this in today’s Azerbaijan is nothing but a product of imagination. New facts would mean wider public debate. In fact, everything is clear as day and quite simple. The Azerbaijani state was captured by enemies. Terrorism, torture, murder, and false accusations are not only their crimes but also part of the plan to destroy an entire nation. Therefore, we should not be silent about the massacre committed in Tartar. Because if we keep silent about Tartar today, they will turn the whole country into Tartar tomorrow. And no one can deny or exclude this. At least because the Tartar massacre has already been committed…”
August 8, 2023