International organizations call on the Azerbaijani government to release Ibadoglu
Case of Gubad Ibadoglu
The detention in Azerbaijan of the economist and opposition politician Gubad Ibadoglu caused a resonance in the international community. Three authoritative international human rights organizations, as well as two members of the US Senate, appealed to the Azerbaijani government to release him.
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On August 8, the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) issued a statement, which was also signed by Human Rights Watch and the Human Rights House Foundation. In a statement, international human rights structures noted that they were deeply concerned about the arrest and harsh conditions of detention in Azerbaijan of civil activist and economic scientist Gubad Ibadoglu.
“For years, Gubad Ibadoghlu has advocated for democratic principles and socio-economic progress within Azerbaijan. He had been a leading figure in the Economic Research Center, a non-governmental organisation conducting research on public finance management, good governance, and budget transparency until the government forcibly closed it in 2014.”
Human rights organizations have also noted that his dedication to advancing academic excellence has led to teaching positions in academic institutions in the United States and Europe, and to a position as a senior visiting scholar at the London School of Economics until recently. Gubad Ibadoghlu is also the chairperson of the Azerbaijan Democracy and Prosperity Movement.
“We urge the Azerbaijani authorities…”
“We urgently call upon the Azerbaijani authorities to conduct an independent and impartial investigation into the circumstances surrounding the arrests of Gubad Ibadoglu and Irada Bayramova. We demand Gubad Ibadoglu’s immediate release as we are convinced that the charges against him are false and have been brought for politically motivated reasons.
Furthermore, we express deep concern about the harsh conditions of detention endured by Gubad Ibadoghlu. His family has reported that he suffers from type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and poor eyesight, and since his arrest that he has faced difficulties in accessing necessary medications to treat his condition, proper food, clean drinking water, and his glasses. His cell lacks air circulation, natural light, and proper sanitary conditions.”
Human rights organizations reiterate…
Human rights organizations reiterate that the use of excessive force, ill-treatment, denial of medical aid, and poor detention conditions constitute inhumane and degrading treatment, which is strictly prohibited under both Azerbaijani legislation and international human rights treaties to which Azerbaijan is a party.
The statement also draws attention to the obstacles Gubad Ibadoglu faced in gaining access to his lawyer:
“According to information provided by family members, until 27 July, Gubad Ibadoghlu was unable to meet with his lawyer in private. On the 26th of July, lawyers were kept in the waiting room of the detention centre for over two hours. The following day, the lawyer could only meet with Gubad Ibadoghlu after obtaining permission from the investigator, who accompanied the lawyer during the meeting.
Additionally, during the meeting, Ibadoglu was compelled to remain handcuffed and was denied access to his glasses. By monitoring, observing, and listening to Ibadoghlu’s meetings with his lawyer, the authorities impeded open communication and hindered his ability to document the possible physical and psychological abuse he may have suffered while in detention.”
“Azerbaijani authorities must respect and protect the right to freedom of expression”
At the end of the statement, it states that as a visiting researcher in economics at the London School of Economics and a civil activist, Ibadoglu carried out work and made contributions to public discourse that should be protected, and any charges against him should not be politically motivated.
“The Azerbaijani authorities must respect and protect the right to freedom of expression, allowing him to freely express his opinions and criticisms without fear of persecution or harassment. We stand in solidarity with Gubad Ibadoghlu, Irada Bayramova, and their family during this challenging time, and we will continue to exert every effort to seek justice and safeguard human rights.”
Senators also spoke out in defense of Ibadoglu
The arrest of Gubad Ibadoglu provoked a reaction in the US Senate.
“Attacks on democratic activists in Azerbaijan are unacceptable. We must work harder to put pressure on the authorities. Ilham Aliyev must stop pressure on political dissidents and release political prisoners, including Gubad Ibadoglu,” said Senator Chris Van Hollen.
US Senator Bob Menendez also called for the release of Ibadoglu.
“I am concerned about the arrest of this opposition figure and am monitoring the situation in connection with him,” Menendez wrote on Twitter. He urged the US Department of State to prioritize the release of Ibadoglu in all contacts with the government of Azerbaijan.
On July 23, Gubad Ibadoglu, chairman of the Azerbaijan Democracy and Prosperity Movement, was detained by officers of the Main Department for Combating Organized Crime. He was charged under article 204.3.1 of the Criminal Code (when an organized group committed the manufacture, acquisition or sale of counterfeit money or securities). According to information released by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, one of the five people detained in the course of a special operation related to FETÖ (an organization declared terrorist in Turkey, whose head, Fathullah Gülen, is a preacher living in Pennsylvania, USA), had links with Ibadoglu which led to his prosecution.
Searches were carried out in his office, apartment, dacha. On July 24, the Narimanov District Court of Baku city sentenced the opposition politician to 3 months and 26 days of arrest.
Ibadoglu pleads not guilty to the charges and links his arrest to political activities.
The day before, Turkish law enforcement officers detained and handed over to the Azerbaijani government another economist, Fazil Gasimov, who lives and works in Istanbul. According to official information, he was arrested in the case of Gubad Ibadoglu and he was also charged with a similar charge under article 204.3.1 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan.