Gubad Ibadoghlu, a senior visiting fellow at the London School of Economics, was due to spend this year’s holidays with his wife, daughter and two sons. Mostly, they planned to just spend time together, cook, drink wine and maybe watch fireworks over the River Thames again to see in 2024. But Ibadoghlu won’t be around. He’s in jail in Azerbaijan.

The economist, who has also taught at Princeton, Duke, North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Rutgers, is one of at least 250 political prisoners there; depending on your definition there are tens of thousands or even over a million worldwide. There are a lot of altruistic reasons to give these people a thought over the holidays, as well one that isn’t: Someday, it could be you.

Mostly when we think of political prisoners, it’s people like the opposition leader and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny, who recently and ominously, went missing within the Russian prison system. The once bull-like Mikheil Saakashvili, a former Georgian president, has grown emaciated as he faces his third Christmas in a Tbilisi jail. In Iran, prosecutors just slapped the already jailed human rights activist Narges Mohammadi with yet another bogus trial, no doubt as punishment for being awarded the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize.