CHAPTER 24 THE FATE OF ISLAMIC ETHNIC MINORITIES IN AZERBAIJAN

Seven hundred people took part in the Congress, from which 475 were authorized deputies.

According to official results of a census 205 thousand Lezgiz live in Daghestan and 174 thousand in Azerbaijan. The census of 1989 showed that there lived 500 thousand Lezgiz in the USSR. But in fact at least 800 thousand Lezgiz live in Azerbaijan and 250 thousand in Daghestan.3

The Lezgiz inhabiting Daghestan can develop their culture freely, there exist Lezgian schools and other educational institutions. The Makhachkala radio broadcasts programs in Lezgian every day.

They have their national theatre, newspapers, magazines and other publications in their national language.

The Russian Federation supports also all the other minorities of Daghestan to develop their culture. The Lezgi intelletuals study the history of their people (Lezgiz represent one of the 26 nationalities inhabiting the ancient Albania proper). In contrary to this, the Lezgiz of Azerbaijan suffer numerous hardships. The teaching in Lezgian is strictly forbidden there.4

The Lezgi intellectuals Usman Kamberov and Nizami Kiurevi wrote in “Literaturnaya Gazeta”;

“One can only imagine in a terrible dream what the Azerbaijanis did with the Lezgis. Approximately 500 thousand Lezgis were registered as Azerbaijanis in the identification cards. There has been not one Lezgian school in Azerbaijan. Not one mention is made about the existence of the Lezgi nationality in the Azerbaijani history text books.

The Lezgian culture is either being demolished or laid claims to. In this way the “Lezgian Mosque” built in Baku in 1969 was renamed a “XII Century Mosque” in 1985. The Lezgian theatre functioning in Baku since 1906, ceased to exist. The Azerbaijani government does not conceal its policy towards the Lezgiz also in governing. The Lezgi mostly live in Southern Zakatala, Kakhi, Shaki, Katkashen, Vardashen, Ismail, Ghuba, Kussari, Khachmas regions, forming majorities in some of the above regions, but the official leadership in those regions belongs to the Azerbaijanis. The goals of this policy are evident. The Turkish saying is right to state “There is no nation, there is no problem”. The Lezgian river Samur attests that the slogan is being carried out in reality. Two huge water pipes carry the water to irrigate the plains of Azerbaijan, while the flourishing Samur valley is turning to a desert. The unique forest “Liana” is dying. This is ecologically disasterous for the valley. It’s quite clear that the Lezgis of Azerbaijan are deprived of elementary ethno-cultural rights, without which the full personality development is impossible. The representatives of our nation have not once demanded to solve the problem of reunification of the two communities of the nation, to realize the right of self-determination within the Russian Federation. To sound convincing let’s examine the July 26, 1990 Law on Citizenship of Azerbaijan. Article 26, point 2 of that Law reads;

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