Opinion of the Council of Europe on the state of national minorities in Armenia

2023/02/68787-1677487015.jpg
Read: 2511     15:30     27 Февраль 2023    

On February 13, 2023, the Council of Europe's opinion on the state of Armenia's national minorities was published on the Council of Europe website, among which the state of the Yazidi community was highlighted as the key one.

In its report, the Advisory Committee of the Council of Europe notes that the current sectoral approach of the Armenian authorities to anti-discrimination legislation does not guarantee adequate protection against discrimination. In addition, the Committee considers that the authorities should reconsider their approach and envisage the adoption of comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation, based on the relevant provisions of the General Policy Recommendations of the European Commission on Combating Racism and Intolerance.

The Advisory Committee of the Council of Europe in its report noted the need for

flexible approach to representatives of minority groups who identify themselves as national minorities and are interested in joining the Council of National Minorities.

The report notes that "Representatives of Yazidis expressed regret that most of the work of the authorities to support their culture and the minority as a whole was limited to folklore expressions of dance and song, and not the use of funds to address other key areas...

In general, small national minorities, including Udins, expressed their fears for the future, since there are only about 100 people left, and assimilation of these minorities is possible in the near future.

The lack of knowledge about national minorities in Armenia negatively affects all national minorities and limits the prospects for intercultural dialogue.

Representatives of civil society also informed the Advisory Committee that this stereotypical view of minorities, combined with the perception of Armenia as homogeneous both ethnically and religiously, leads to the fact that mainstream society ignores both national and religious minorities.

The report notes that "Representatives of Yazidis stated that they feel biased and derogatory attitude from some segments of the population, especially through social networks and traditional media."

The Advisory Committee notes that several international and national human rights organizations, including the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, human rights NGOs, with whom the Advisory Committee met during the visit, expressed serious concern about the criminal prosecution against the Yazidi human rights defender Sashik Sultanyan. Their concerns concerned, in particular, the incorrect qualification of legitimate statements and the protection of their minority as incitement to hatred and the deterrent effect of criminal cases initiated on this basis on human rights defenders and other persons defending the rights of minorities. These NGOs also informed the Advisory Committee about the retarding effect of these proceedings on their daily work to protect human rights. In addition, the Armenian Ombudsman also shared with the Advisory Committee his concerns about the criminal case under consideration, stating that he had asked the Prosecutor General to terminate the criminal case against Sultanyan.

International organizations, including the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (UN CERD), the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (UN CEDAW), the US Department of State (US State Dept.) continue to raise the issue of unjustified termination of studies among national minorities in Armenia. Civil society organizations and Yazidi organizations are also very active in this issue, in general, they stated that the actual number of school dropouts is much higher than the authorities report: up to 70% of Yazidi girls and 50% of Yazidi boys (compared to about 7% in the majority of the population) drop out of school. In particular, teachers' reports state that less than five Yazidi girls complete 12-year education every year. As for the reasons, they identified several factors contributing to this dropout rate, including a number of educational problems: the availability of preschool institutions; the absence of all 12 years of compulsory education in Yazidi villages; misunderstanding of the importance of education by students and parents; prolonged absence from school due to nomadic seasonal work; unsatisfactory provision of Yazidi language teaching and the absence of teaching of Yazidis and national minorities in the curriculum. There are also a number of problems concerning other areas covered by the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, which are analyzed by high unemployment; lack of transport between schools.

The Advisory Committee urges the authorities to take priority measures to address the disproportionately high dropout rate of Yazidi students, especially girls.

According to the Advisory Committee of the Council of Europe, the authorities should collect data and cooperate with representatives of civil society and minorities to develop and implement a strategy with specific indicators and results to reduce the dropout rate, taking into account the full range of contributing factors.

The Advisory Committee strongly recommends that the authorities expand and systematize the current model of scholarships provided for higher education more widely, in order to ensure wider access to higher education for more students belonging to national minorities.

The representatives of Yazidis informed the Committee of their dissatisfaction with the fact that the teaching of their language is usually carried out informally, in the form of optional classes outside of regular school hours and only one or two hours a week. Representatives of national minorities also regretted the lack of Yazidi-speaking and bilingual preschool institutions and stressed the need for a broader offer of professional, adult and continuing education in Yazidi language.

Representatives of the Yazidi community also stated that the low wages of Yazidi teachers hinder the organization of further classes, since this discourages potentially interested candidates from becoming teachers (in places where Yazidis live compactly). Yazidi teachers can only work a few hours a week, which also limits their wages. During its visit, the Committee learned that there is indeed a shortage of teachers and that when teachers leave a position, it is not always filled. The vacancy at the school visited by the Committee remained unfilled for a year, where it was also mentioned that adults often attend secondary school classes to receive education in Yazidi language. Yazidi representatives also reported that there is no teacher training, and that many teachers who are currently teaching may not have higher education or education in teaching or proficiency in the Yazidi language. As for textbooks, while some Yazidi organizations welcomed the authorities' approach to publishing new textbooks, other organizations questioned the quality of the content of these textbooks, which were not created with the active participation of Yazidis.

The Advisory Committee calls on the authorities to take steps to expand the offer of teaching in the Yazidi language in the general curriculum at the primary and secondary levels, including by improving teacher training and financial incentives for Yazidi students to study and work as teachers.

Representatives of Yazidis, as the largest minority, expressed concern, in particular, about the lack of representativeness of public services. The fact that only one person belonging to the Yazidi minority works in the judicial system, and very little or no work in the police or the Government unit for national minorities is particularly alarming.

Representatives of minorities, especially those belonging to Yazidi minority, pointed out a number of problems related to their compact places of residence, the Advisory Committee had the opportunity to personally get acquainted with some of them, for example, among other things, the poor quality of roads around Yazidi and Assyrian villages was recorded, which may also be one of the reasons for dropping out of schools, since transport between villages are very difficult to organize. Representatives of Yazidis also stated that they have a higher unemployment rate, but this is not reflected in official data.

Yazidi organizations also raised the issue of land use, some organizations stated that the land owned and used by the Yazidis for decades was sold by third parties in a number of villages, which was not prevented by the state, which has a particularly negative socio-economic impact on the Yazidis, since they have nowhere else to graze cattle.

Read the full report here rm.coe.int/5th-op-armenia-en





Tags: #yazidisinfo   #UN   #councilofeurope's   #yazidisofarmenia   #humanrightsofarmenia  



Opinion of the Council of Europe on the state of national minorities in Armenia

2023/02/68787-1677487015.jpg
Read: 2512     15:30     27 Февраль 2023    

On February 13, 2023, the Council of Europe's opinion on the state of Armenia's national minorities was published on the Council of Europe website, among which the state of the Yazidi community was highlighted as the key one.

In its report, the Advisory Committee of the Council of Europe notes that the current sectoral approach of the Armenian authorities to anti-discrimination legislation does not guarantee adequate protection against discrimination. In addition, the Committee considers that the authorities should reconsider their approach and envisage the adoption of comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation, based on the relevant provisions of the General Policy Recommendations of the European Commission on Combating Racism and Intolerance.

The Advisory Committee of the Council of Europe in its report noted the need for

flexible approach to representatives of minority groups who identify themselves as national minorities and are interested in joining the Council of National Minorities.

The report notes that "Representatives of Yazidis expressed regret that most of the work of the authorities to support their culture and the minority as a whole was limited to folklore expressions of dance and song, and not the use of funds to address other key areas...

In general, small national minorities, including Udins, expressed their fears for the future, since there are only about 100 people left, and assimilation of these minorities is possible in the near future.

The lack of knowledge about national minorities in Armenia negatively affects all national minorities and limits the prospects for intercultural dialogue.

Representatives of civil society also informed the Advisory Committee that this stereotypical view of minorities, combined with the perception of Armenia as homogeneous both ethnically and religiously, leads to the fact that mainstream society ignores both national and religious minorities.

The report notes that "Representatives of Yazidis stated that they feel biased and derogatory attitude from some segments of the population, especially through social networks and traditional media."

The Advisory Committee notes that several international and national human rights organizations, including the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, human rights NGOs, with whom the Advisory Committee met during the visit, expressed serious concern about the criminal prosecution against the Yazidi human rights defender Sashik Sultanyan. Their concerns concerned, in particular, the incorrect qualification of legitimate statements and the protection of their minority as incitement to hatred and the deterrent effect of criminal cases initiated on this basis on human rights defenders and other persons defending the rights of minorities. These NGOs also informed the Advisory Committee about the retarding effect of these proceedings on their daily work to protect human rights. In addition, the Armenian Ombudsman also shared with the Advisory Committee his concerns about the criminal case under consideration, stating that he had asked the Prosecutor General to terminate the criminal case against Sultanyan.

International organizations, including the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (UN CERD), the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (UN CEDAW), the US Department of State (US State Dept.) continue to raise the issue of unjustified termination of studies among national minorities in Armenia. Civil society organizations and Yazidi organizations are also very active in this issue, in general, they stated that the actual number of school dropouts is much higher than the authorities report: up to 70% of Yazidi girls and 50% of Yazidi boys (compared to about 7% in the majority of the population) drop out of school. In particular, teachers' reports state that less than five Yazidi girls complete 12-year education every year. As for the reasons, they identified several factors contributing to this dropout rate, including a number of educational problems: the availability of preschool institutions; the absence of all 12 years of compulsory education in Yazidi villages; misunderstanding of the importance of education by students and parents; prolonged absence from school due to nomadic seasonal work; unsatisfactory provision of Yazidi language teaching and the absence of teaching of Yazidis and national minorities in the curriculum. There are also a number of problems concerning other areas covered by the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, which are analyzed by high unemployment; lack of transport between schools.

The Advisory Committee urges the authorities to take priority measures to address the disproportionately high dropout rate of Yazidi students, especially girls.

According to the Advisory Committee of the Council of Europe, the authorities should collect data and cooperate with representatives of civil society and minorities to develop and implement a strategy with specific indicators and results to reduce the dropout rate, taking into account the full range of contributing factors.

The Advisory Committee strongly recommends that the authorities expand and systematize the current model of scholarships provided for higher education more widely, in order to ensure wider access to higher education for more students belonging to national minorities.

The representatives of Yazidis informed the Committee of their dissatisfaction with the fact that the teaching of their language is usually carried out informally, in the form of optional classes outside of regular school hours and only one or two hours a week. Representatives of national minorities also regretted the lack of Yazidi-speaking and bilingual preschool institutions and stressed the need for a broader offer of professional, adult and continuing education in Yazidi language.

Representatives of the Yazidi community also stated that the low wages of Yazidi teachers hinder the organization of further classes, since this discourages potentially interested candidates from becoming teachers (in places where Yazidis live compactly). Yazidi teachers can only work a few hours a week, which also limits their wages. During its visit, the Committee learned that there is indeed a shortage of teachers and that when teachers leave a position, it is not always filled. The vacancy at the school visited by the Committee remained unfilled for a year, where it was also mentioned that adults often attend secondary school classes to receive education in Yazidi language. Yazidi representatives also reported that there is no teacher training, and that many teachers who are currently teaching may not have higher education or education in teaching or proficiency in the Yazidi language. As for textbooks, while some Yazidi organizations welcomed the authorities' approach to publishing new textbooks, other organizations questioned the quality of the content of these textbooks, which were not created with the active participation of Yazidis.

The Advisory Committee calls on the authorities to take steps to expand the offer of teaching in the Yazidi language in the general curriculum at the primary and secondary levels, including by improving teacher training and financial incentives for Yazidi students to study and work as teachers.

Representatives of Yazidis, as the largest minority, expressed concern, in particular, about the lack of representativeness of public services. The fact that only one person belonging to the Yazidi minority works in the judicial system, and very little or no work in the police or the Government unit for national minorities is particularly alarming.

Representatives of minorities, especially those belonging to Yazidi minority, pointed out a number of problems related to their compact places of residence, the Advisory Committee had the opportunity to personally get acquainted with some of them, for example, among other things, the poor quality of roads around Yazidi and Assyrian villages was recorded, which may also be one of the reasons for dropping out of schools, since transport between villages are very difficult to organize. Representatives of Yazidis also stated that they have a higher unemployment rate, but this is not reflected in official data.

Yazidi organizations also raised the issue of land use, some organizations stated that the land owned and used by the Yazidis for decades was sold by third parties in a number of villages, which was not prevented by the state, which has a particularly negative socio-economic impact on the Yazidis, since they have nowhere else to graze cattle.

Read the full report here rm.coe.int/5th-op-armenia-en





Tags: #yazidisinfo   #UN   #councilofeurope's   #yazidisofarmenia   #humanrightsofarmenia