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EU Diplomat and Labour Party Politician Calls for the Release of Azerbaijani Human Rights Defenders


Eamon Gilmore, the European Union special representative for human rights, made a statement regarding the detention of human rights defenders and political activists in Azerbaijan. In a meeting with Azerbaijan’s ombudsman, Sabina Aliyeva, Gilmore expressed his serious concerns and urged for the release of Bakhtiyar Hajiyev and Gubad Ibadoglu, both of whom were arrested on dubious charges. This statement highlights the troubling situation in Azerbaijan regarding human rights and the freedom of political dissent.

Firstly, Bakhtiyar Hajiyev is a well-known Azerbaijani human rights activist and advocate for the rights of people living with disabilities. He was arrested in December 2022, on contempt of court charges, which carry a potential sentence of four years in prison. His arrest was widely criticized by human rights groups and international organizations, who view it as a politically motivated move to silence dissent. Furthermore, Hajiyev was already under surveillance by Azerbaijani authorities for his work with the Open Society Foundations, which had been forced to leave Azerbaijan due to government pressure. His detention is emblematic of the Azerbaijani government’s ongoing suppression of independent civil society.

Secondly, Gubad Ibadoglu is a prominent economist and opposition leader who was arrested in July 2023 on charges of counterfeiting money. The charges against him are widely viewed as fabricated, and Ibadoglu himself has declared them as politically motivated. He was an advisor to opposition leader Ilgar Mammadov, who was himself imprisoned on trumped-up charges. Like Hajiyev, Ibadoglu’s detention is a clear attempt to silence dissent and repress opposition in Azerbaijan.

The arrests of Hajiyev and Ibadoglu come in the broader context of worsening human rights violations in Azerbaijan. The country has a long history of suppressing civil society, free speech, and opposition voices. Journalists are regularly harassed and imprisoned for reporting on sensitive issues, while opposition figures face trumped-up charges and violent attacks. The government’s crackdown on civil society has also affected independent organizations and charities working on human rights issues. In recent years, Azerbaijan has shut down local chapters of international organizations such as the Open Society Foundations and Human Rights Watch.

The statement by Gilmore and the concerns expressed by international organizations and human rights groups underline the urgent need for Azerbaijan to address its human rights situation. The country must release political prisoners and reform its laws to protect civil society and free expression. The Azerbaijani government must engage in dialogue with independent organizations and opposition figures to find peaceful solutions to political disputes. Without these basic changes, the situation in the country will continue to deteriorate and undermine the rule of law and democratic principles.

The situation in Azerbaijan regarding human rights and freedoms must not be ignored. The arrest of Bakhtiyar Hajiyev and Gubad Ibadoglu is a clear attempt to silence dissent and suppress legitimate opposition. The Azerbaijani government must release all political prisoners and reform its laws to protect the rights of its citizens. The international community must continue to express its support for human rights defenders and the free press in Azerbaijan. We must stand together to ensure that everyone in the country has the right to express their views and participate in the democratic process without fear of repression or persecution.


Free Gubad Ibadoglu

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