The State of Minority Groups in Azerbaijan

The Republic of Azerbaijan, formerly the Soviet Socialist Republic of Azerbaijan is composed of main minority groups of Lezgins 178,000 (2.2%), Russians 141,700 (1.8%), Armenians 120,700 (1.5%) In addition to this, Azerbaijan has a large number of smaller minorities, each comprising less than 1 per cent of the total population, including Turks, Tatars, Ukrainians, Georgians, Kurds, Jews, Udins and Tsakhurs. To date Azerbaijan has not adopted a law on national minority rights, and, according to a report prepared by the Silk Road Studies Programme of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute in September 2006,

Azerbaijani policy-makers attach little importance to doing so. At the level of government discourse there is refusal to acknowledge ethnic discrimination as a factor affecting minorities in Azerbaijan. Hate-speech against Armenians continues to be a staple of officially sanctioned media, while peace-building initiatives involving civil society actors are regularly vilified, and sometimes result in physical assaults on the property and persons of those involved Armenians and persons of mixed Armenian-Azerbaijani descent have been denied work, medical care and education, and were unable to register their residences due to their ethnicity.

Discrimination and harassment at work seems the norm, and in some cases local authorities have refused to pay pensions to members of the Armenian minority. Similarly, in the area occupied by ethnic Armenian forces, authorities have effectively banned the very few remaining ethnic Azerbaijanis from all spheres of civil, political and economic life. Discrimination appears to be selective by group, however. The Azerbaijani government has, for instance, taken steps against anti-Semitism and there are very few reports of anti-Semitic activities against Azerbaijan’s Jewish population. The number of Russian-medium schools in Azerbaijan has increased in recent years. Russian continues to be used informally in local government institutions in some areas. Members of national minorities do, however, have the right to the use of their own language and free translation in their interaction with the criminal justice system. Azerbaijani legislation offers no specific guarantees for national minority representation in political structures, although informally efforts are made to ensure a reasonable representation of national minorities in government.

In 2007, MRG staff member Neil Clarke travelled to Azerbaijan to survey the state of minority groups and efforts being made to provide adequate representation of these often times underrepresented groups.

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Gallery

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At night Josep sometimes stands on his roof and looks up at the stars. He believes the spirits will come to him and bring him peace. He is happy these days in Xianaliq and proud of its revival. But most of all he is pleased his children have the opportuni
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Women speak more openly with outsiders in Lahic - a sign of its distinct culture
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Although Lahic benefits as a tourist attraction, it is famous for its exclusive metal work, which has been exported around the world
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The scale of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict was not widely reported outside of the region but it has touched most Azeri families. An estimated 2 million people are internally displaced of a population of 8.5 million.
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It is one of the oldest religious sites in Azerbaijan. Shama.
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: Even in the most remote corners of Azerbaijan the omnipresent image of the President and his late father, the former President, is everywhere. For Josep he is a hero, but other Azeris more quietly question levels of corruption and the effects of nepotis
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Some minorities have not benefited from the government support. Most Azeris recognise a sizeable Roma population, but claim to know little about them or where they live.
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Xianaliq's striking location and unique culture has begun to attract tourism
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The re-development of Xianaliq is funded by the oil boom in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan’s changing nature is in evidence everywhere.
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: Just a few hundred yards away in the graveyard, we find evidence of a more contemporary conflict. One thing we found uniting the many diverse communities in this country, were the scars of the recent conflict with Armenia over Nagorno Karabakh
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Date: 31/05/2007

Categories:

Refugees/Displacement/Migrants

Copyright Holder: Minority Rights Group

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