The Georgians residing on the territory of the historical Georgian district Saingilo – now in the territory of Azerbaijan – complain of the authorities’ indifference towards their problems in the YouTube video titled “Inhabitants of Saingilo.” They say there is no law there. Security service, intimidation and threats are the methods the Azerbaijanis use.
The inhabitants say that those who go to church are threatened to lose their job. “For example, Fr. Basiliy, the only Orthodox clergyman, is constantly threatened, oppressed and compelled to leave. Say, on the next day after Easter he was banned to sanctify the graves. Lawlessness! There is just no law here!” a local Georgian woman says.
They get no support from the Georgian government, according to her.
“Say, if our clergyman is expelled from Saingilo, we will go to Georgia and hold a protest to demand that all the mosques are closed down. Let them close down all the mosques in Georgia then,” another inhabitant adds.
He says there is only one operating church in Saingilo, and St. George’s Church in village Kurmukhi in Azerbaijani Kakhi district bordering with Georgia has been closed down.
“The president of Georgia himself congratulated the Georgian Azerbaijanis on the holiday of Novruz Bayrami. Yet to us, even the minor officials did not come on Easter, let alone the president. There was no one from Georgia either. This is all very sad. We all need to raise this issue. There is no one-way brotherhood,” one of the locals said.
The Georgians of the historical district Saingilo – which today is in the territory of Azerbaijan – have a number of problems. Over the past years five Georgian clergymen have been compelled to leave the historical Georgian district Saingilo on the demand of the Azerbaijani side. On the local authorities’ decision, in the historical Ereti – in the Azerbaijani territory – the Azerbaijani citizens of Georgian origin (over 10,000) can attend prayers only twice a year, May 6 and November 23, the St. George’s Day. Another demonstration of discrimination is that the Muslim Georgians cannot recover their historical surnames, etc.
Ethnic Georgians have been historically residing in the former Zakatal Region of the Russian Empire. Currently it constitutes the districts of Kakhi, Belakani and Zakatala in Azerbaijan. The total number of the Georgians of those districts, including the Muslim Georgians, is approximately 50,000. Along with other indigenous peoples of the region, they are subjected to oppressions on ethnic and religious ground in Azerbaijan. The local Georgians have repeatedly written appeals to the Georgian and Azerbaijani authorities on the subject.