Center for National and International Studies



“If Ilham Aliyev once again resorts to imitating reforms and continues the repression in the country, a strong rhetoric will be employed against the Azerbaijani government…”

(Lack of) Human Rights and Freedoms

Chairperson of the Azerbaijan Democracy and Welfare Party (ADR), Professor Qubad Ibadoghlu, who is currently in detention, is experiencing a severe deterioration in his health, as highlighted in a social media post by his brother Galib Toghrul. Concerned about Ibadoghlu‘s critical condition, the endocrinologist from the Medical Administration of the Ministry of Justice has increased the dose and frequency of insulin injections to twice a day, with 14 and 12 units. Until the day of his arrest, Ibadoghlu never used insulin and opted for a single daily intake of 750 mg of Metformin. Presently, alongside insulin, the dosages and frequencies of the administered tablets have been more than doubled. Toghrul emphasized in his post: “In an effort to conceal the sharp deterioration of my brother’s health from both local and international communities, and to minimize his contact beyond the penitentiary, the Penitentiary Service is doing everything possible. This institution has unofficially imposed a ban on my brother’s meetings with representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross. Despite the Red Cross representatives being in Baku Investigative Detention Center last week, the administration did not permit them to visit my brother.”

Zibeyde Sadigova, the lawyer for Qubad Ibadoghlu, has confirmed the critical state of his health. Sadigova shared on social media: “Qubad Bey is facing severe health issues. Despite the daily intake of high doses of medication and insulin injections twice a day, his blood sugar levels show no signs of decreasing. Additionally, despite medication aimed at regulating heart palpitations, his pulse remains consistently high. The endocrinologist has recommended a 10-day vascular cleansing procedure for Qubad Ibadoghlu due to blockages in his veins caused by elevated sugar levels. Consequently, Qubad Ibadoghlu will undergo this procedure in a medical facility over the next ten days. Each day, he will spend an hour in a medical facility and then be returned to prison. However, it is essential to note that rather than this daily hour-long medical institute visit, Qubad Ibadoghlu should have been placed in a Medical Institution for comprehensive treatment.”

On February 9, the complaint addressing the restricted phone communication for the lawyer of journalist Nargiz Absalamova, who is under arrest in connection with the “Abzas Media” case, was reviewed. As reported by Abzas Media, the Sabunchu District Court dismissed the journalist’s plea to lift the communication ban during the court proceedings. According to Shahla Humbatova, the lawyer, despite the investigative body in charge of the criminal case restricting communication and visits with the journalist’s family, the Penitentiary Service imposed an unwarranted communication ban on the lawyer. Even though the hearing scheduled for February 6 was postponed to February 9 due to Nargiz Absalamova’s absence, her participation was still not secured during the proceedings on February 9, and the court proceeded with the case in her absence.

ADR Party Youth Organization committee member Ayyub Chelebi has been missing since he left his home on Saturday evening. According to information provided by his neighbors, unidentified individuals in civilian clothes approached him, placed him in a car, and drove away from the area. There is a presumption that these individuals might be affiliated with the police. Currently, there is no information available regarding the reason and location of Ayyub Chelebi’s detention.

The books by the Chairperson of the National Council of Democratic Forces (NCDF), Professor Jamil Hasanli were not permitted into the prison. Political prisoner Ilhamiz Guliyev asked his family for Hasanli‘s books ‘Southern Azerbaijan: At the Crossroads of History’ and “The test of Time” to be sent to him, however the books were not allowed in the penitentiary facility. Ilhamiz Guliyev, a young activist, was forcibly arrested on December 4, 2023. According to his family, the arrest was conducted with force. On December 6, Yasamal Court imposed a 4-month pretrial detention measure on Guliyev. He is accused under Article 234.4.3 (possession of a large quantity of narcotics) of the Criminal Code. According to defense lawyers, the actual reason for the arrest is Guliyev’s interview with the “Abzas Media” internet publication, where he discusses the police using “unofficial narcotics” to arrest political activists. Additionally, other political prisoners, journalist Sevinc Vagifqizi and professor Gubad Ibadoglu, were also denied to receive Hasanli‘s books.

Post-election situation

The European Union has endorsed the OSCE‘s negative evaluation of the elections. In response to the snap presidential elections held in Azerbaijan on February 7, the European Union’s Diplomatic Service released a statement saying that the European Union acknowledges the preliminary observations and findings of the OSCE Election Observation Mission. As per the information presented by the OSCE Election Observation Mission, the elections took place in a constrained political environment, with laws that curtail fundamental rights and freedoms, including those limiting the right to free assembly, expression, and media freedom. Despite thorough preparations for the elections, the stifling of critical voices and the absence of political alternatives characterize the electoral process. While Election Day was peaceful and generally well-organized, observers noted significant procedural irregularities, lack of transparency, and numerous serious incidents,” stated the release.

The post-election situation and anticipated changes have become a topic of discussion on social media. Activists and human rights defenders have noted that ongoing repression will likely intensify following Aliyev‘s victory in the election, further stifling freedoms in the country. However, politicians aligned with the government claim the opposite, asserting that in this fifth presidential term of Aliyev, who has been in power for over 20 years, new reforms will be undertaken. Member of Parliament Vahid Ahmadov stated, “a significant process will begin after President Ilham Aliyev appoints a new government from within. Economic changes, particularly in social issues, are expected, including salary increases and various benefits. Moreover, more precise changes are anticipated in the ongoing reconstruction efforts, which began after the Karabakh war, even before the elections.”

Fuad Gahramanli, a member of the Popular Front Party (AXCP), stated that if, in his fifth term as president, Ilham Aliyev once again resorts to imitating reforms and continues the repression in the country, the final report of the OSCE will be very harsh. The election results will be deemed illegitimate, and a strong rhetoric will be employed against the Azerbaijani government. This could open the way for sanctions against the Azerbaijani authorities.

One of the notable changes observed after the elections is the increased visibility of President Ilham Aliyev‘s son, Heydar Aliyev, and expanded media coverage featuring him. Government-affiliated media headlines now include not only President Ilham Aliyev but also his son. In one Azerbaijani state media outlet, the headline reads: “Ilham Aliyev and his son Heydar Aliyev visited the military facilities of the Air Force.”

February 13, 2024