MINELRES: Discrimination in Belaqani District, Azerbaijan Continues

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Sun Jul 9 11:55:21 2006

Original sender: Ucha Nanuashvili <hridc@hridc.org>

Human Rights in an Azeri Way

Discrimination in Belaqani District Continues

Ititala - it is the village in Belqani region, where confession of
Georgian ethnicity and especially Christianity can result in problems.
Two years ago our website revealed the story of the Iashvili family, who
were persecuted by Azeri law enforcement authorities (see
http://www.humanrights.ge/eng/stat53.shtml ). Temur Iashvili interested
and greatly involved in addressing the discrimination problems in
Georgia has been assaulted by the Azeri Police many times; even today he
is persecuted and can’t visit his own village. Lately our attention has
been drawn to this nice village and problems faced by the Georgian
population living there. 15 year old Turane Balaeva (or Ana Baliashvili
as she calls herself) has been physically abused by the school Director
due to her Georgian “clothes and looks”. 

After missing two days of school, Ana Baliashvili returned there on May
26th of this year - where she faced an assault from the Director. “The
first lesson was math. The Director entered the room and asked who was
absent that day and I responded because I am a prefect. This was
followed by another question; who was absent the previous day? Myself
and those others who were absent responded by standing up. Suddenly he
approached me and hit me in the face. I ran away, he followed me calling
me ‘swine’. He kept following me until he figured out that it was
impossible to catch me. When I looked back I was overwhelmed by fear;
his mad face revealed his readiness to kill me.” 

The Azeri Director of the Georgian School Elba Abasov checked Ana’s
attendance for the previous day and learning about her missing the
lessons, he did not abstain from saying the offensive words towards her

The question, why she was persecuted by the director, was answered by
Anna as follows and she committed to us to make conclusion: “On previous
days he entered the classroom, pointed to my jeans and asked, why I was
dressed in Georgian way, though the others were also wearing the same" 

A wooden cross worn by Ana under her clothes has not yet been noticed by
the Director or the other teachers. “I keep my cross under my clothes;
if they notice it they will assault me or even dismiss me. 

Ana has not gone to school since May 26th. On June 4th the Balaevs
appealed to the police against the director but as a result of permanent
pressure from the Director’s relatives they were forced to halt their

It should also be noted that Ana’s sister is a Christian. Iza Blaeva
believes that this alone provides an accurate explanation of the
aggression expressed towards her. This is underlined by the fact that
nobody can freely confess Georgian ethnicity and/or accept Christianity
in the village. “If I say that I am Georgian or Christian I will be
laughed at and even attacked” - Anna shares her sorrow with us. 

“Here accepting Christianity represents a real issue… we are told to be
Ingiloys and not Georgians, but this is nonsense since such a nation
does not exist. It is the same as telling a person from Guria that he is
not Georgian, but Gurian”, states Anzor Katsiashvili, who managed to
regain his Georgian surname (he succeeded it several years ago in
Georgia) and has consequently faced immense problems. His problems can
also be attributed to his acceptance of Christianity, which has made him
subject to pressure and persecution many times.    

Giving surnames and even the first names to children in the Belaqauri
district is a big problem that is proved by the story of Ramaz
Mazanashvili, born in December 2001. He managed to receive his birth
card in January this year.

“Ramaz was born 5 years ago and only received his birth card this year.
I was not allowed to receive the card because in their opinion the child
had a Georgain name”, says Ramaz’s mother Neli Mazanashvili and adds:
“There were many cases of similar unresolved problems related to giving
a name to a new-born. For example, our neighbor was permitted to have a
name like Manana - for there is a singer in Azerbaijan with this name.
However, she had to give a bribe. The thing is that the people living in
Georgia, in Tatar villages, give names according to their will. The
problem persists here; by using these tactics they want to prevent
Georgians returning to their country”. 

There are 5 families in Aliabadi (the village in Belaqan) with their
previous Georgian surnames. They managed to get their family names back
during the Soviet era, but not today, in Azerbaijan. “Nowadays it is
impossible to get your own surname back… and as you can observe, here,
those people with Georgian surnames are not able to get a job. To avoid
creating additional problems, people even have changed the Georgian
names of their children into Tatar. Many of the Georgians want to
acquire citizenship in Georgia but they do not dare. You can find only a
very limited number of families who are entirely devoted to their
nationality and simultaneously are trying not to loose their origins –
being Georgian”, says Neli Mazanashvili. 

Mazanashvili calls on the Georgian government to take into consideration
the issues concerning the Georgian ‘Ingiloys’: “We want to express our
dissatisfaction towards the Georgian government being indifferent. We
would like to demand support from Georgia”.   


Ucha Nanuashvili
Executive Director

The Human Rights Information & Documentation Centre (HRIDC)
1, Rustaveli Ave., Entrance 5, 4th Floor, Apt. 68.
Tbilisi, 0105 Georgia
Tel: (+995 32) 99 04 02
Fax: (+995 32) 45 45 33
Cell: (+995 (8) 99) 50 80 36
Email: hridc@hridc.org
Web Site: http://www.HumanRights.ge

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