ZAGATALA RESIDENTS CLAIM FREEDOM OF RELIGION IS VIOLATED

August 4th, 2011
On Thursday, at the Media Center, several Zagatala residents held a press conference to discuss the violation of their religious rights.

According to lawyer Elman Osmanov, Police refused to allow residents of the Yukhari Tala village in the Zagatala region to renew their national Identification Card, because they had grown beards. They were told that they are supposed to have the same appearance as they did when they received their first ID Cards. On July 26th, the individuals were forced to shave off their beards.
Elman Osmanov emphasized the aggressive attitude of the police. He also reported that even when the men went to the public notary in order to defend their rights, they were subjected to religious insults.  
Abaker Gaziyev reported that the chief of police at the Crime Investigation Unit, Dashgin Guliyev, had insisted that the men shave off their beards for the ID card photos. Gaziyev claims that, at the police station,  6 police officers attacked him and forced him to shave off his beard.
Yusif Sultanov claims he was subjected to the same assault.  He said that this behaviour demonstrates a lack of respect for freedom of religion, and that the police are breaching the limits of their authority.  Lawyer Elman Osmanov stated that the men have appealed to the Committee Against Torture, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ombudsman’s office, and General Prosecutor’s office. He also mentioned that he is considering taking the case to the European Court of Human Right
The victims have refused to claim their ID cards, and declared that unless they are permitted to have their photograph taken with their beards, they will reject their Azerbaijani citizenship.