October 25, 2023
For over three months, Dr. Gubad Ibadoghlu, a renowned Azerbaijani academic and human rights defender dedicated to promoting democracy, transparency, and accountability, has been assaulted, illegally detained, and denied critical medical care by the Azerbaijani government. Governments and civil society around the world have condemned the Azerbaijani authorities and demanded the immediate release of Dr. Ibadoghlu. In this sea of voices, energy company BP is conspicuous in its silence.
Arbitrary Detention for Demanding Transparency
Dr. Gubad Ibadoghlu was assaulted and arrested on July 23rd in Baku, Azerbaijan on trumped-up charges. While in custody, Dr. Ibadoghlu is denied critical health care and access to prescribed blood pressure and diabetes medications. His health has deteriorated precipitously during his detention, and at the time of writing, Dr. Ibadoghlu’s family has expressed grave concerns about his future health because of the cruel denial of necessary medical treatment.
Civil society, academics, and governments across the globe have spoken out, decrying the actions of the Azerbaijani government, including the US Department of State, the OSCE, and the European Union. On September 14, 2023, the European Parliament adopted a resolution condemning Gubad Ibadoghlu’s arbitrary detention and calling for his immediate release and an independent investigation into his mistreatment.
BP’s Investments in Azerbaijan
The United Kingdom is the largest foreign investor in Azerbaijan, and BP is the largest corporate foreign investor in the country. It has been operating in Azerbaijan for thirty years, and according to Reuters, the “consortium of foreign companies that produces oil and gas in Azerbaijan under BP’s operatorship exported 16.7 million tons of oil, accounting for 88% of the country’s total exports.”
Yet, BP has failed to speak publicly about Dr. Ibadoghlu’s detention, despite its close relationship with the Aliyev regime and its outsized influence over the Azerbaijani economy.
Instead, in September 2023, while Dr. Ibadoghlu was suffering with no medical care in pre-trial detention, the Chair of the Board of BP, Helge Lund, met with President Ilham Aliyev in Baku to commemorate the signing of the “Contract of the Century” and discuss “new investment opportunities” and “prospects for cooperation.”
According to the company’s website, BP is committed “to safety, to speaking up if something doesn’t seem right, compliance, care for others and working together as one integrated BP team.” BP also provides supplier expectations, which specifically highlight the necessity of the supplier to respect human rights and to provide an environment free of fear to speak out. Yet BP fails to meet its commitments when it comes to the detention and torture of Dr. Ibadoghlu, one of the most vocal advocates for fossil fuel transparency and accountability.
“Be accountable. We follow through on our promises – when we can’t – or make mistakes – we own it. Care for others,” says the company’s website.
We call on BP to follow its own commitments and to use its singular influence in Azerbaijan to demand the unconditional release of Dr. Gubad Ibadoghlu.