Center for National and International Studies
“The Azerbaijani government seems to be trading something with the West by repressing its own citizens…”
(Lack of ) Human Rights and Freedoms
The National Council of Democratic Forces (NCDF) has issued a statement condemning the arrest of Gubad Ibadoglu, who serves as the chairman of the Azerbaijan Democracy and Prosperity Party. The statement highlights the disturbing events that unfolded on July 23, when Gubad Ibadoglu, a prominent figure known for being a respected professor at the London School of Economics and Politics, and his wife were subjected to violence. According to the statement, Gubad Ibadoglu and his wife were subjected to violent detention carried out by officers from the Main Organized Crime Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. During this arrest, both Ibadoglu and his wife endured physical violence and psychological torment, resulting in physical injuries. Of particular concern is the fact that Gubad Ibadoglu, who suffers from hypertension and diabetes, was denied access to his necessary medication after being taken into custody. This has raised serious apprehensions about his well-being and health.
Shortly after the detention of Gubad Ibadoglu, the press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs issued a statement clarifying that he was brought in for questioning as a witness. The decision was made based on the testimony of one of the four Azerbaijani citizens who had been detained in connection with the Fethullah Gulen network. The information leading to their arrest was provided by Turkish law enforcement agencies.
According to Gubad Ibadoglu‘s lawyer, he denies any acquaintance or knowledge of the individual who testified against him. The lawyer emphasizes that there is no prior association between Ibadoghlu and the person whose testimony led to his involvement in the investigation as a witness.
The National Council of Democratic Forces firmly believes that the motive behind Gubad Ibadoglu‘s arrest is to gain moral legitimacy for the action in the eyes of the Azerbaijani public. This is being achieved by attempting to create the impression that the arrest is somehow connected to Turkish service agencies. However, the council is convinced that the true reason for his detention is rooted in his oppositional political stance and his critical speeches aired on BİZ.TV.
The rest of the statement by the NCDF reads: “The establishment of the “Azerbaijani Youth Education Fund,” which was recently registered in London, has seemingly provoked the authorities. Notably, in the past few weeks, five members of the Milli Majlis (Tahir Karimli, Aydın Mirzazade, Elshan Musayev, Jeyhun Mammadov, Fazil Aghamali) have been openly campaigning against the Fund and its founders through the government and YAP media urging the authorities to take measures against the Fund. We, as the National Council, voice our protest against the violence and illegality perpetrated against Mr. Ibadoghlu. His arrest was carried out under the influence of a political directive. We condemn the false and fabricated accusations against him, and we declare that Professor Gubad Ibadoglu was detained because of his political and critical activities, and we demand his immediate release.”
Jala Bayramova, the daughter of Gubad Ibadoglu, took to social media to share concerning information. According to her post, Gubad Ibadoglu‘s lawyer has been attempting to meet with him for the past two hours, but it was unsuccessful, raising suspicions that he may be deliberately concealed or hidden. Bayramova also expressed worry about her father’s well-being, questioning whether he has access to his necessary medication in the current situation. Furthermore, she revealed that there has been no communication from him for the past two days, adding.
Moreover, Ghalib Togrul, the brother of Gubad Ibadoglu, has revealed that pressure is being exerted on Ibadoghlu’s lawyer Zibeyda Sadygova. He reported that a complaint had been filed with the Bar Association regarding Ms. Zibeyda’s conduct or actions. The situation indicates a concerning development in the legal representation of Gubad Ibadoglu, raising questions about the fairness and impartiality of the proceedings surrounding his case.
Meanwhile, a number of local and international human rights defenders and organizations condemned Ibadoghlu’s arrest calling for his immediate release. Nabila Massrali, Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy of the EU, tweeted that the EU closely follows the developments regarding Ibadoghlu. Massrali’s tweet: “The EU is following closely developments related to the arrest of renowned scholar and activist Gubad Ibadoghlu. We call on Azerbaijan to ensure his access to medication, to swiftly release him, and to respect his rights, including his right to due process.”
Vugar Mammadov, the editor-in-chief of “Hurriyyat,” has been handed a one-month prison sentence for sharing prohibited information on a social network. The content in question involved discussions about the disclosure of restricted actions within state bodies and the Armed Forces, including evident criminal activities. The press freedom in Azerbaijan has faced growing constraints, particularly after the implementation of controversial amendments to the Media Law, which have further restricted the media’s ability to operate freely and independently.
As per the details shared by lawyer Nemet Karimli, Elkhan Aliyev, an employee of the Organizational Department of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (APFP), was apprehended by Sabunchu police. He is facing charges under section 178.3.2, relating to fraud in large amounts. The lawyer strongly believes that these charges are linked to Elkhan Aliyev‘s political activities, indicating a clear case of political pressure. Notably, Aliyev had previously experienced numerous arrests due to his political activism.
Natig Jafarli, a member of the ReAl party, commented on the recent surge in repressions and arrests in Azerbaijan, saying that the government’s actions seem to be influenced by the price of oil in the international market. Jafarli’s Facebook post: Everyone in the country is looking for various reasons to explain the government’s recent escalation in its hardline approach, putting forward various versions. I think the reason is as simple and chronic as usual – the price of Azerbaijani oil has exceeded 80 dollars in recent weeks. If it exceeds $90, we will see the next wave of restrictions, and if it exceeds $100, all breathing room for dissent will be closed. If the price of oil declines to $40-50, the government will talk about reforms again, easing some restrictions, and the tales about the non-oil sector will be circulated again. In other words, the price of oil is directly linked to the level of oppression observed in the country.”
According to activist Ulvi Hasanli, the recent actions of the Azerbaijani government, involving the repression of its citizens, appear to suggest some form of trade or negotiation with the West. Hasanli’s Facebook post: “The government seems to be trading something with the West by repressing its own citizens again. Otherwise, why would they arrest individuals from various groups simultaneously? Lawyers, politicians, journalists, and civil society members seem to be under attack.”
Every day, there is heartbreaking news of soldiers losing their lives, and in recent months, there have been reports of soldier suicides as well. Wednesday alone, two soldiers, Telman Ayyubov in Gubadli and Ilkin Alakbarov in Baku, tragically took their own lives with firearms. On June 19, another soldier, Azizov Farid, ended his life using a firearm in Fuzuli, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Additionally, there was a devastating incident where a soldier threw himself out of a window in Ganja.
Over the past two months, five soldiers have committed suicide, a grim reality that is known to the public. However, independent journalists argue that the actual number of such cases may be higher than officially reported. This alarming trend of soldier suicides raises serious concerns about the well-being and mental health support provided to those serving in the military.
July 28, 2023