Baku police prevent rally in memory of deceased schoolgirl
About 50 people came at noon on 13 April to Public School No 162 in Baku to a demonstration called ‘End School Violence!’.
They wanted to lay down flowers in memory of 14-year-old Elina Hajiyeva, who recently jumped out of the school’s window after being unable to cope with the bullying she was subjected to by her fellow students. She died two days later.
However, police did not allow the demonstration to proceed, arguing it was unauthorized and then blocked the road. The police demanded that the protesters leave their flowers and disperse.
A similar event took place near this school the day before, on 12 April. The police watched from the sidelines, but behaved politely and did not interfere with what was happening. Moreover, reporters from pro-government television channels arrived and interviewed participants of the rally.
The demonstrations were different due to the individuals who participated in them: on 12 April it was mainly the mothers of the schoolchildren who showed up, while on 13 April there were mostly youth activists.
Hajiyeva was in the 8th grade of Public School No 162 in Baku after having recently transferred from another school. However, shortly after her arrival, her fellow students began bullying her.
Hajiyeva’s mother says that older students insulted and bullied her daughter, scoffed and even beat her.
The parents complained to the school administration, who promised to intervene. However, no serious measures were taken. Hajiyeva also complained that some teachers treated her rudely.
On 4 April, she jumped out of the school’s window. Two days later, she died in hospital from her injuries.
The case immediately received much publicity and the prosecutor’s office launched an investigation.
After Hajiyeva’s death, the details of what happened began to make their way onto Facebook.
One such example is of an audio recording in which the school principal blames the girl’s mother for her death, arguing that the mother was married a second time. She interpreted this as grounds to say that the girl “did not come from a good family”.
Another was of a video filmed by school staff to “prove that it was suicide”. From the video and from other sources it became apparent that:
- After Hajiyeva jumped from the window, the school administration did not immediately call an ambulance;
- When she was taken to hospital, the doctors did not let her parents in to see her. They said that she was okay and was recovering;
- Representatives of the school administration as well as local officials were allowed into her hospital room. They then ‘interrogated’ her to find out the reasons behind her action.
Facebook users are writing statuses with the hashtag #ElinaÜçünSusma [Az. Don’t be quiet about Elina], and are demanding that both the school administration and the doctors involved in the case be punished.
Some of comments posted on social media:
“Everybody must be held accountable for what happened to this girl. It is necessary that all these nits be imprisoned and the personnel cleaned.”
“The director violated the law. If there is no open and objective trial, it calls into question all the reforms carried out in the education system.”
“Who knows how many more children and teenagers are subjected to the same harassment as Elina?! We have to save them!”
The issue of school bullying is being actively discussed on social media, on a hitherto unprecedented level.
Psychologist Azad Isazade said in an interview with Turan that, in his opinion, no significant measures would be taken:
“Every year during university entrance exams, one to two applicants make attempts on their own lives. We shout about the problem, the society discusses it and resents it and the press writes about it. But by the end of the examination period they have forgotten all about it until the next exams.”