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Azerbaijan detains opposition youth activist

12 February 2024
Ayyub Chalabi. Image via social media.

Azerbaijani police have detained a youth activist associated with the imprisoned opposition figure Gubad Ibadoghlu.

Ayyub Chalabi was detained on 10 February. His father, Khayyam Chalabi, stated that the 23-year-old activist had disappeared after going out to buy bread from a store close to their home in Baku.

‘I learned from the neighbours that three people in civilian clothes stopped my son in the yard of our house and took him away in their car’, said Chalabi’s father, who chairs a local branch of the Azerbaijan Democracy and Welfare party.

The party’s chair, Gubad Ibadoghlu, has been in prison since July 2023 on charges of making, acquiring, or selling counterfeit money and disseminating religious extremist material.

[Listen on the Caucasus Digest: Podcast | The arrest of Gubad Ibadoghlu]

His family said they were unable to contact Chalabi and that the police had declined to give details of his whereabouts until the following day, when the Interior Ministry confirmed to Meydan TV that he had been detained. The ministry said a court had since sentenced him to 30 days of administrative detention on unnamed charges. 

Chalabi’s father said his son suffered from a heart defect, and that the Azerbaijani authorities were likely trying to pressure him through the arrest of his son.

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‘This is a political safari, they detained my son because of me. This is related to my political activity’, he said.

Khayyam Chalabi said the authorities were likely not pursuing him directly because of his disability, having lost both legs during the First Nagorno-Karabakh War. ‘They punish my son to pressure me’, he said.

‘My son may have written a critical post [online]. Everyone writes about the same things, some have even written more critical posts’, he added.

Ayyub Chalabi was the latest in a series of members of Ibadoghlu’s party to be detained by the Azerbaijani authorities. At least 10 other members of the party, including its deputy chair, have been detained since Ibadoghlu’s arrest.