Feb 09, 2007

Southern Azerbaijan: Admitted to UNPO

UNPO Membership is hoped to give the Azerbaijani Turks of Iran further momentum in their struggle for national rights.

The latest meeting of the UNPO Presidency, which met from 01 – 03 February at the European Parliament in Brussels, has continued pursuit of UNPO’s goal of giving a voice to all unrepresented nations and peoples, by welcoming Southern Azerbaijan into the organisation.

[More on this Meeting of the UNPO Presidency]


When the Gajar State collapsed in 1925, the territory of Southern Azerbaijan was forcefully included in the Mamaleke Mahruseye Iran State. Popular uprisings began shortly after, resulting on two occasions in the successful restoration of territorial control. In both cases this control survived for about a year, but resulted in eventual defeat.

Following the incorporation of Southern Azerbaijan into the Iranian state, a massive influx of non-Azerbaijanis began entering the cities of Gazvin and Hamadan. This resulted eventually in Azerbaijanis numbering only 37 percent of the total population in these cities. This wave of immigration stalled temporarily upon the founding of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the subsequent Iran-Iraq War, but resumed almost immediately upon its end. Encouraging immigration and partitioning Southern Azerbaijan into separate provinces is the ongoing policy of Iranian authorities, designed undoubtedly to undermine ties between these territories and the people of Azerbaijan.

This policy has also made it increasingly difficult for Azerbaijani Turks to remain in their traditional territories, with nearly 8 million presently living abroad, though 20 – 22 million still remain in Southern Azerbaijan. These discriminatory policies have however also resulted in increased local opposition to Iranian rule.

The Southern Azerbaijan National Awakening Movement (SANAM) has joined UNPO in an effort to strengthen this movement further. Founded by students and intellectuals in 1995, it is presently engaged in a civil and peaceful struggle to advance the right of Azerbaijani Turks to self-determination.