Doctor says Yagublu may slip into coma

“He can sink into a coma at any time, and anything serious might happen to a starving person.”

The opposition leader Tofig Yagublu, who has been on hunger strike for 16 days now, could easily fall into a coma, doctor Adil Geybulla said on Thursday.

“He has become very weak and lost weight… He can sink into a coma at any time, and anything serious might happen to a starving person. Therefore, we try to intervene when there are complications,” Geybulla said.

Yagublu, a member of the National Council and Musavat Party, was convicted of hooliganism in early September and was sentenced to four years and three months in prison. The 59 year-old politician launched a hunger strike in protest of what he called an “unfair” trial process.

His family members and supporters called the conviction politically motivated.

Yagublu's daughter Nigar Hazi told Meydan TV that her father's health situation has gotten worse over the past days.

“His voice was very weak. He said he felt terribly weak. He said he couldn't stand up without help, his bones were aching, his eyesight was very bad, even his glasses cannot help anymore. He said he does not know how long he has,” Hazi said, urging the government to release Yagublu.

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The Penitentiary Service and other authorities have not yet commented.

Zahid Oruj, the chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights, said on Thursday that “the authorities are not interested in the deterioration of Tofig Yagublu's health.”

“Today, there are forces interested in the deterioration of Tofig Yagublu's health,” Oruj added.

Deputy Prime Minister and deputy chairman of the ruling New Azerbaijan Party (YAP) Ali Ahmadov said on his official social media account that Yagublu, dissatisfied with the verdict, would be better to resort to legal procedures to settle it.

“It is very difficult to consider the tactic of winning at the expense of one's health as the right choice,” Ahmadov said.

The National Council and Musavat Party members, as well as human rights advocates outside the country, extended their support to the opposition leader by bringing their efforts together to join Yagublu's hunger strike. Former political prisoner Afgan Mukhtarli, who was abducted from Tbilisi and later ended up in Baku´s jail in 2017, is also among the supporters joining the hunger strike outside the Reichstag in Berlin.

Yagublu's detention came days after Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev urged authorities to take firm stance against the opposition, saying it was using the coronavirus pandemic to create instability in the country.

Critics of President Ilham Aliyev's government, which has ruled Azerbaijan since 2003 after taking over from his late father and decade-long ruler Heydar Aliyev, say authorities often silence dissident voices by jailing and intimidating opposition activists, journalists, and civil-society advocates on bogus charges.

The Azerbaijani government has repeatedly denied allegations of politically motivated arrests in the country.

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