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On May 12, 2006, Iran Daily, an official state newspaper published a cartoon degrading and humiliating Azerbaijanis. This caused peaceful demonstrations of Azerbaijanis against the cartoon. In May 22, 2006 hundreds thousands of people in Tabriz took to the streets to condemn the cartoon. The peaceful demonstration of the people was pushed down bloody with Iran authorities. The deadly protests occurred in the city of Naghadeh, and followed widespread demonstrations in Ardabil, Zenjan, Urmiya and other cities.

At least 27 people were killed and more than 100 people were injured in demonstrations in the Azerbaijani region, northwest of Iran. The large numbers of people attending the demonstrations were arrested. Most of the Azerbaijani cultural and human rights activists were threaten to not attend the protests or not invite people to participate in the protests. The detained activists, which were taken to Iran Intelligence Service, were tortured and forced to sign papers to not participate in the same activities.

The event was not only protests against the cartoon. It is more than 80 years that the policy of assimilation against non-Persian ethnics is followed by Iran regimes, both Pahlavi dynasty and the Islamist regime. Azerbaijanis are faced with the fundamental human rights violations. The Azerbaijani people have no political right to represent themselves in the country with their own ethnic identity. They are deprived of education in their own language, noting that Azerbaijanis constitute more than 30 percent of Iran population.

This year also before May 22 Iran authorities have started the detentions of the cultural and human rights activists. Also the threats have begun to prevent people from organizing demonstrations and participating in the protests. People have the right to organize any peaceful demonstrations even according to Iran Constitution, but authorities do not let people to use their constitutional right.

Threatening, detentions and tortures do not stop the movement of the Azerbaijani people in the way of demanding their basic cultural and political rights. The ethnic demands become stronger in Iran, and along with Azerbaijanis other ethnic groups also have started their movements to gain their rights.

Iran authorities refusing the demands of ethnics are taking the country into a probable ethnic volatile. If Iran regime wants to protect the unity of the country the only way is giving the rights of the ethnics. Any other solution may bring greater problems which may take Iran to ethnic clashes.


Ethnic conflicts in the context of social science theories

Valery A. Tishkov

Different social science approaches to the phenomenon of ethnicity and the methodologies of the discipline influence a rather wide spectrum of interpretations of ethnic conflicts. The problem is that what is usually categorized as an ethnic conflict quite often has a more complex nature.

Iran’s Strategy in the South Caucasus

Kaweh Sadegh-Zadeh

Iran’s   trouble   with   Azerbaijan’s nationalistic government under President Elchibey (1992-93), and the menace of increased US-Israeli-Turkish influence in the South Caucasus guided Tehran to support Armenia at the beginning of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. 

Azerbaijan Events and Structure of Power in Iran

Sam Ghandchi

The events of Azerbaijan has caused a surprise for many who say Azeris are also Shi'a and even Khamene'i and many of the regime's top brass are Azeri and then why such opposition to the regime and that being in Azerbaijan. 

Marking Boundaries, Marking Time

Juan R.I. Cole

The Qajar Empire in the second half of the nineteenth century simply was not a nation-state. Probably no more than half of Qajar subjects spoke Persian (with vast regional variations in dialect--e.g. Gilaki--so that even fewer peasants spoke a mutually comprehensible Persian).   A third of the population was Turkic in language and heritage, and many other ethnicities, such as Lur, Arab, Kurdish and Baluchi, were encompassed by the Qajar state (even today, millions of women in particular among these linguistic minorities know little or no Persian).


The Tomorrow of Iran will Be Bloodshed

Ensafali Hedayat

You should thank God that you were not raised in a society like that of Iran—to feel what we endured on a daily basis. The government’s attitude towards Azeris and other ethnicities in Iran is more like the deprivation of food and goods. I have been a witness to that discrimination myself because I was not permitted to read and write the language of my ancestors, that is, Turkish.

Iran in the Caucasus: Keeping Balance in Volatility

Tigran Martirosyan

  Separatist tendencies of Iran’s ethnic Azeris heavily affect its behavior towards the region. The Azeris in Iran are generally considered a well-integrated component of Iran’s multiethnic society, have a comparatively weak Azeri identity, and consider themselves at least as much Iranians as Azeris. However, the oppression of their nationalist claims by the authorities in Tehran suggests that they constitute a far more pressing problem for Iran than is observed from the outside.