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Prominent Azerbaijani Rights Activist In Coma After 'Traffic Accident'

Oqtay Gulaliyev (standing) was rushed to a hospital in Baku on October 29.
Oqtay Gulaliyev (standing) was rushed to a hospital in Baku on October 29.

BAKU -- Prominent Azerbaijani rights activist Oqtay Gulaliyev is in a coma after being hit by a car in Baku, his wife says.

Firuza Gulaliyeva spoke to RFE/RL on November 4, a week after the activist was rushed to a hospital in the Azerbaijani capital on October 29.

Gulaliyev is the coordinator of a nongovernmental group called Committee Against Repressions and Torture that defends inmates' rights in Azerbaijani penitentiaries.

He has been actively defending the rights of dozens of people in high-profile politically motivated cases.

After Gulaliyev was hit by the car, his colleagues and opposition activists in Azerbaijan accused the authorities of being behind what they called an attempt to kill the human rights activist.

On November 1, Baku police rejected the allegations, saying that Gulaliyev was injured in an ordinary traffic accident that had nothing to do with his professional activities.

Oqtay Gulaliyev is reportedly in a coma.
Oqtay Gulaliyev is reportedly in a coma.

Gulaliyev's son, Ali, told Current Time on November 1 that his father faced pressure from the authorities and threats from unknown people when he was defending dozens of people arrested in July 2018 following deadly protests in Azerbaijan's second-largest city, Ganca.

President Ilham Aliyev's opponents, Western countries, and international human rights groups say Aliyev's government has persistently persecuted critics, political foes, independent media outlets, and civic activists.

Aliyev, who has ruled Azerbaijan since shortly before his father's death in 2003, has rejected the criticism.