Hijab protest

In the autumn of 2010, the Ministry of Education imposed a ban preventing schoolchildren with hijabs (headscarves) from entering schools. This led to disappointment among the religious community, resulting in various campaigns and protests.

Following a small protest held in December 2010 against the hijab ban, the first mass protest took place on 6 May 2011 in front of the Ministry of Education. The peaceful protest was dispersed by police and plain-clothed officers of law-enforcement agencies. As a result, a high number of protesters were detained. Twelve of them received imprisonment terms from 18 months to 3 years, charged with hooliganism and violation of public order without proof. Some of the detainees who served their sentences or received early release, are not included in this report. Nonetheless, we consider those persons as former political prisoners, and can provide further information to those who are interested.

The second mass protest took place before the Ministry of Education on 5 October 2012 (5 October is celebrated as the Day of Teachers in Azerbaijan, and this day was selected symbolically to draw attention to the situation). Police efforts to disperse the peaceful action through force led to confrontations. Consequently, the number of detainees exceeded that of those arrested on 6 May 2011. Both protesters and police employees sustained physical injuries. All persons arrested for attending the protest are included in this list.

Observation of the protest and analysis of photos and videos from the protest show that the action was peaceful, and protesters refrained from confronting the police and officers of other law-enforcement agencies. But after the use of force by police, some of the protesters had to defend themselves. The photos and videos clearly showed that provocateurs were used. These provocateurs threw wooden sticks bearing protest slogans and imitated resistance to police. This was done to fuel claims that the action was not peaceful. None of the provocateurs, who are clearly seen in the photos and videos, has been detained. But all others, even those whose faces were only shown in photos and videos and had not resisted police, and those who were late to the protest, were detained and imprisoned under court decisions. The main evidence cited when issuing the court decisions was police testimonies. But questions regarding the reliability of the testimonies have arisen since these police were on the opposing side during the protest. The owners of shops and taxi drivers operating around the Ministry of Education, who were involved as witnesses, said that they had not seen the defendants at all. The punishment for police violence against protesters was inadequate.

Information about those arrested for participation in the protest was not publicized for a long while. Their trials were held in groups.

For those convicted, see hijab protest (list) …

Source — March 2018 list