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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.


The 'Azeri' Question and Turkey-Iran Relations, 2000-2002 Print

Robert Olson

The recrudescence of Azeri nationalism - both in the Republic of Azerbaijan (ROA) and in among Azeris in Iran, especially in Azerbaijan- Iran - the three northwest provinces of West Azerbaijan, East Azerbaijan and Ardabil1 - as well as among the Azeri population in adjoining provinces and among the Azeri population in other parts of Iran, especially Tehran-has reemerged sufficiently strongly in the past decade to become a player in the wider arena of Middle East politics.

The Nation and Its Minorities: Ethnicity, Unity and State Policy in Iran Print

A. William Samii

The Iranian constitution has specific provisions guaranteeing equal rights to minorities. They have the right to their specific religious practices, as well as the right to use their languages in the mass media and in education. The constitution also grants the minorities a modicum of legal and administrative autonomy in regions where they are the majority. These constitutional provisions have little meaning in reality, and the state is pursuing policies of religious, linguistic, and cultural unity at the expense of minority rights.

Escalation of Ethnic Conflict: A Survey and Assessment Print

David Carment, Patrick James

Why are some multi-ethnic states susceptible to violent escalation, state breakdown and collapse while others are not? Current perspectives on violent ethnic conflict and its underlying causes are surveyed in an attempt to answer that question. The focus will be twofold: First, we assess the various attributes of states at risk of ethnic violence. Second, we examine the domestic and international interactions that lead to violence between ethnic groups. We are concerned in particular with states at risk of violence during internal political transformation. 

Iran’s Role in the South Caucasus and Caspian Region: Diverging Views of the U.S. and Europe Print

Brenda Shaffer

Officially, Iran declares itself neutral in the conflict between neighboring Armenia and Azerbaijan. The proposed stance of neutrality is inconsistent with the official ideology of a state that portrays itself as the protector and champion of the Shi’i in the world. Overall, Iran prefers that the Republic of Azerbaijan remain involved in a conflict, thus making it less attractive to Iran’s Azerbaijanis and unable to allocate resources to stir-up ‘South Azerbaijan.”

The Revival of the Ethnic Identities for Attending a Modern Nation Print

Sedigheh Adaleti

The world today is in the pace of the recognizing the differences between the nations rather than encouraging the similarities. Particularly in the developed and modern countries, in which there is the co-existence of different ethnic groups under the same body politic, there are a lot of attempts for accepting the various ethnical identities.

Iran and the Challenge of Diversity Print

A Book Review

This study is a multidisciplinary work that draws on fields of history, sociology, literature, politics, anthropology, and cultural studies to explore the origina-tion, development, and continuation of racist ideas in Iran. It analyzes the relationships among European racist ideas, the creation of the Indo-European language family, and the emergence of modern racism in Iran, interrogating the construction of notions such as Aria, Aryan race, and Aryanism in an Iranian context.
Culture, Community and Territory: The Politics of Ethnicity and Nationalism Print

Anthony D. Smith

In approaching the politics of ethnicity and nationalism, the first impression that comes to most people's minds is one of extremism and bitter conflict. Even where violence is absent, ethnic and nationalist politics is thought to be characterized by endemic instability, unpredictability and acute passions.
The Construction of Peoplehood: Racism, Nationalism, ethnicity Print

Immanuel Wallerstein

Nothing seems more obvious than who or what is a people. Peoples have names, familiar names. They seem to have long histories. Yet any pollster knows that if one poses the open-ended question "what are you?" to individuals presumably belonging to the same "people," the responses will be incredibly varied, especially if the matter is not at that moment in the political limelight.And any student of the political scene knows that very passionate political debates hinge around these names.
Azerbaijani Scholars’ Letter to Ethnologue Print

As a group of Iranian and Azerbaijani scholars and human rights activists, we the undersigned would like to express our deepest gratitude to you and all the individuals involved in publishing and maintaining Ethnologue, the most objective and scholarly body of knowledge on world languages.

Human Rights Violations in South Azerbaijan Print

After May 2006 cartoon crisis, any incident of protest is harshly repressed and large scale arrests and detentions took place in the Azerbaijani regions. Besides before February 21 International Mother Language Day , Babek Castle gathering , Dec. 12 anniversary of foundation of  National Government  and similar events, several organizers and to-be-participants are arrested and detained to intimidate the people .

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