Georgia: Teacher publicly punished for speaking out against bridenapping of schoolgirl
Residents of the Azerbaijani-inhabited city of Garadabani located in Georgia have forced a Geography teacher of Azerbaijani origin to apologize for a Facebook post condemning the abductions of girls, and filmed the apology.
The Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs is investigating the incident in the village of Tezekendi, Gardabani Municipality.
The basis for the initiation of proceedings was the video apology posted on the Internet. The footage shows how the young man is insulted.
“You disgraced our entire nation”, is one of the phrases heard in the video.
The young man in the video is called Hamid Sadikh. He is a geography teacher at the school of the village of Tezekendi of the Gardabani Municipality, those who have gathered around him are locals.
The dissatisfaction of the residents of Tezekendi was caused a post by Hamid Sadikh on Facebook, in which he condemns the widespread practice in the Azerbaijani community of abducting young girls for the purpose of marriage and describes the specific story of his former student.
“One of my students was kidnapped. Today, for the first time, she was supposed to attend a lecture at the university. She was abducted from the bus stop…”, Sadikh writes.
Then he mentions aksakals or local elders, who are believed to be guardians of traditions:
“After the abduction, the aksakals will say – make peace and live together,” Sadikh wrote in a post that has already been erased.
Under pressure, Sadikh apologized and gave new clarifications on Facebook.
The video filming was carried out by those who arranged a “public trial” of the teacher, and was distributed on the Internet by local residents, demonstrating an indicative, in their opinion, punishment for insulting traditions.
Allegedly, even relatives of Sadikh himself are among them.
The incident quickly came to the attention of the media, the Ombudsman and non-governmental organizations. After that, the Ministry of Internal Affairs opened a case under Article 150 of the Criminal Code on suspicion of violent acts against Hamid Sadikh.
Who is Hamid Sadikh?
Hamid Sadikh is a resident of the Gardabani municipality, an Azerbaijani, works in his region as a geography teacher.
şkilatlarının diqqət mərkəzinə gəlib. Bundan sonra DİN cinayət məcəlləsinin 150-ci maddəsi ilə – Həmid Sadıxa qarşı zorakılıq əməllərində şübhə ilə bağlı cinayət işi qaldırıb.
Sadıx artıq polisdə ifadə verib.
Sadikh is considered a social activist. A few years ago, he participated in the project of the non-governmental organization Sapari on the issue of early marriages. He has his own page on Facebook, on which he writes about his attitude to various relevant but taboo topics in the Azerbaijani community.
For example, in one of his posts, he described the story of an elderly Azerbaijani woman who dreamed of studying in her childhood, but her father, the head of a large family, married her at the age of 15 almost to her first suitor.
She was a minor, so she appeared in the registry office with a cousin’s passport. At the end of the story, this elderly woman with difficulty moving presses her granddaughter’s diploma to her heart.
Sadikh writes that this story is not one specific person, many Azerbaijanis have a similar fate.
In the local community, Sadikh does not only have opponents. The youth of the Kvemo Kartli region, which includes the Gardabani municipality, organized a support campaign in Facebok called “Do not touch the teacher!”
In support of Sadikh, people post on Facebook on a page created by the non-governmental organization Sapari:
Nashir Ordukhanov: “A teacher not only holds lessons every day. A teacher is a public figure. He raises his voice against injustice. He must raise his voice against early marriage, against the abduction of girls. Unfortunately, there are few such teachers, but we are proud of those who do exist. We are proud of Hamid!”
The director of the non-governmental organization Sapari, human rights activist Baia Pataraya, says that she appealed for help to protect Hamid.
“In general, the abduction of girls, forced marriage is a serious problem in Georgia. Hamid is a brave teacher who decided to raise his voice against this crime, which has become a tradition. Hamid stood up for human rights, and we will stand next to him. It is these enlightened and smart young people like Hamid who will be able to change the so-called traditions,” says Bahia Pataraya.
The situation has been taken under control by the ombudsman’s office. Representatives of this institute have already visited Gardabani and looked into the case.
Employee of the Tbilisi Center for Human Rights, Natia Tavberidze, also stated her readiness to help Hamid both legally and psychologically.
Early marriages remain a serious problem in Georgia.
In Kvemo Kartli, a region largely settled by ethnic Azerbaijanis, early marriages are commonplace, and, according to the locals themselves, are part of Azerbaijani traditions.
As a result, representatives of law enforcement agencies, often turning a blind eye to such cases.
According to information provided by the Ombudsman’s office, 4,599 ninth graders dropped out of school in Georgia between 2011-2014. In 2015, 611 marriages with minors were registered, and in 2014 – 665.
The report of the Ombudsman for 2016 says that according to statistics provided by the Ministry of Education, in 2015, 408 students from 13 to 17 years old stopped school due to the ‘formation of a family’, and in 168 cases, for 18 different reasons, 18-year-old students stopped studying.
At the same time, statistics may not reflect the full picture, and the situation may be more dramatic, since Kvemo Kartli schools, where the practice of early marriage is most common, do not keep track of how many students drop out of schools because they started a family.