Projection and UN complaint heighten pressure on COP29 host to free London-based academic

10 June, Bonn – The family of political prisoner Dr Gubad Ibadoghlu called on the United Nations to act as governments wrap up international climate talks in Bonn, which mark the symbolic halfway point to COP29. Campaigners put the spotlight on host Azerbaijan’s inhumane treatment of the renowned economist and critic of the fossil fuel industry that underpins the Aliyev dictatorship. 

Dr Ibadoghlu, a senior visiting fellow at the London School of Economics, was severely beaten by police and imprisoned on fabricated charges while visiting Azerbaijan last summer. He remains detained under house arrest in Baku. 

From the sidelines of the Bonn meeting, Dr Ibadoghlu’s daughter Zhala Bayramova said:  

‘’It is perverse to see Azerbaijan lauded as climate leaders at the Bonn talks, while my father and many other political prisoners remain detained by the Aliyev dictatorship. My father is being punished for his activism and investigations on oil and gas revenues, environmental effects and corruption. He needs urgent surgery for his heart and is deprived of medical help even in house arrest. The UN must act and put pressure on the Azeri regime to release my father and preserve the legitimacy of the international climate process." 

During the talks, Global Witness projected an image of Dr Ibadoghlu in front of delegates and onto prominent buildings at the Bonn conference, calling on the Azeri regime to release him.


Copyright free images of those projections are available for download here.    

Global Witness has also launched a formal complaint against Mukhtar Babayev, President-Designate of COP29 and Azerbaijan’s environment minister. The complaint contends that Mr Babayev is in breach of the UN’s climate treaty in his capacity as an official of the regime that continues to detain Dr Ibadoghlu.

Dr Ibadoghlu’s arrest came after he published an article that criticized the country’s oil and gas policies, and created a charity to return public resources stolen by Azeri oligarchs to the people of Azerbaijan. He faces up to 17 years in prison. 

Dr Ibadoghlu was denied vital medical treatment during his detention and his health, already fragile due to diabetes and high blood pressure, has reportedly deteriorated. He was released to house arrest in April, where the Azeri authorities continued to restrict his access to medical care, according to family members.

Dr Ibadoghlu’s family, along with a broad coalition of civil society groups, are calling for his immediate and unconditional release, as well as the release of other political prisoners in Azerbaijan.

Key players in Azerbaijan’s fossil fuel industry include BP, the country’s largest foreign investor, and TotalEnergies, which recently opened a new gas field in the Caspian Sea. Dr Ibadoghlu’s son, Ibad Bayramov, wrote to both companies in April, asking them to call for his father’s release. Neither company replied.