Apr 05, 2006

Talysh: An Account of Recent Events in Talysh

Talysh people mostly live in Azerbaijan and Iran. Despite efforts to restrict their political activity by the Azerbaijani government, it keeps rising, as growing popularity of the Talysh movement indicates

An analysis of the events taking place in Talish could arrive at the conclusion that the political activity of the Talish people in Azerbaijan has not decreased. Remarkably, the final determination of the political interests of Azerbaijan itself and other states who have geopolitical interests in Azerbaijan will increase the status of the Talish region as a political center within the Southern Caucasus.

This becomes quite important in connection with the increasing pressure on Iran from the leading Western countries because of the nuclear development of this country. Uncareful foreign policy by the Azerbaijan government can lead to catastrophic results for the Talish region particularly in view of current US Iran considerations and possible unilateral action. The building of a radar station in Astar could be indicative in this relation. The possible use of this radar against Iran causes concern to the Talish people and President Aliev has yet to make his position on this question clear. On the other hand, Iran wants to keep the Talish region in the sphere of its interests, but Talish religious leaders could be making a gesture which may backfire.

Despite the fact that the negotiations of the Talish National Movement (TNM) leader F. Aboszoda, who recently returned, with the leading political parties did not bring real results, other activists of TNM continue their struggle to raise awareness of the Talish people. Currently, increasing numbers of political Talish leaders acting on the Azerbaijani political scene. Illustrative of this is the conference devoted to the protection of the national minorities, taking place in Baku and organized as an activity of the European Council.

In February 2006 the constituent assembly of TNM took place in Lenkorani, and the Lenkoranian department of TNM was founded. In the current phase, one of the most important tasks of the Lenkoranian department is the establishment of organizational structures. One of the leading activists of TNM, Zahiraddin Ibragimi, participated in this assembly. He stated, according to Talish press, that the Lenkoranian department should unite the activities of all organizations acting in Talish. According to Mr. Ibragimi a unified information analytical center, the Talish Media Inform, will shortly be created. It will announce the world public the opinion about political and social problems of Talish people. Talish Media Inform will also coordinate the activity of all TNM structures and other Talish organizations, communities and movements existing both in Azerbaijan and outside its borders.

Meanwhile, the political repressions in Talish continue. After arriving to Lenkoran Mr. Ibragami was called to the local department of National Security Ministry (NSM) of Azerbaijan, and released after three hours. Talish writer Emir was summoned and interrogated for a few hours by the Lenkoranian department of NSM because of an article written in 1991. Avas Ramazanov, arrested in connection with the evidences of 1993 and rehabilitated later, was arrested and released only after a twenty-four hours imprisonment in a solitary confinement cell of the NSM.

Despite all the obstacles and pressures from the Azerbaijani government, the political activity of the Talish people is rising. One of the reasons causing this phenomenon is a rapid polarization of the Azerbaijani economy which strikes the Talish region. So far, several elementary facilities, such as gas and electricity, remain absent. This, in addition to the level of unemployment in the region, could be indicative of the Azerbaijani regime’s attitude towards the Talish people.

The recent discovery of the bird flu has deteriorated the situation of the region. The Talish population, mostly involved in the agricultural business and poultry farming, could face serious problems in the near future. Also, the prohibition of hunting birds, both for professionals as amateurs, critically affects hunters and impacts Talish national cuisine. The tea industry, which produced 30 – 35, 000 tons per year in the former Soviet Union, is now devastated. The above mentioned factors have caused mistrust and hostility of the Talish people towards the Azerbaijani government and, similarly, spawned admiration of TNM. “Talish destiny in the hands of Talish people themselves” is a growingly popular slogan.

Extract from: Tolish Press