Southern Azerbaijan: Iran’s Stranglehold Sticks
Iran’s minorities continue to find their right to expression constrained as Tehran refuses to permit its peoples the freedoms they are due.
Below is an article written by D. Khatinoglu and published by Trend News:
Although a half of Iranian population is Iranian citizens of Turkic origin (Azerbaijanis), the authorities still do not recognize their most simple cultural and political rights. “Turks are still abused in Iran. They undergo political pressure and discrimination,” Iranian human rights activist Alireza Javanbakht said to Trend News.
On 22 May, 2006, a range of Iranian cities hosted protests against cartoon depicturing Iranian Turks as cockroaches, which was published in the Iran official newspaper. According to the human rights organizations, Iran’s Azerbaijanis every year make preparations for peace actions devoted to anniversary of that event, but the authorities still do not give permission.
“The authorities do not fulfil its countless promises to restore the cultural rights of Turks, this year  the activists of the national movement in Iran again got prepared for mass protest against ‘Persian chauvinistic thinking’,” Javanbakht, speaker of the committee of defence of Azerbaijan political prisoners, said.
According to Javanbakht, an unofficial curfew has been applied in several cities in Southern Azerbaijan (northern part of Iran). “Security bodies called the activists of the national movement and told them not to leave their houses on 22 May . Police in the Southern Azerbaijan cities are ready for action and already scaring the population,” he said via e-mail from Ankara on 22 May .
The human rights activist said that movement’s several activists engaged in cultural and political activities were arrested in recent days. “We have reliable information that Ali Sadigi, Jamshid Zarei, Hujat Iragi, Salman Iragi, Salar Iragi, Akbar Abdullai and Hamid Rustami were arrested. Security bodies have threatened many activist over phones and told them not to participate in the protest actions,” Javanbakht wrote
According to unofficial reports, presently 35mln people in Iran are of Turkic origin. Iran’s Azerbaijanis do not have right to study in their native language, to open independent newspaper or other media organizations. Tens of Azerbaijani activists are imprisoned.