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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.


Sahriyar, The Literary Memorial of South Azerbaijan Print
His full name is "Seyyed Mehemmed Hosseyn Behjet Tabrizi". He is called as “Seyyed”, because his race comes from the Prophet Muhammad. Mehemmed Hosseyn was his first name while Behjet Tabrizi is his surname, and although Behjet is his nickname. He is also known and called as Shahryar, which is his last nickname, in his hometown and in the world.
The Southern Azerbaijan Problem Print

Karl Rahder

In cities across northern Iran in mid-February, tens of thousands of ethnic Azeris marched in observance of International Mother Language Day, although the subtext was a protest against what they perceive to be the systematic, state-sponsored suppression of their heritage and language.

The Azeri Question in Iran: A Crucial Issue for Iran’s Future Print

 Nasib Nasibzade*

Iran is a multinational country, composed of Persians, Azeris, Kurds, Turkmens, Arabs, Baluchies and others. The Turkic speaking Azeris in Iran are being discriminated against by the Iranian regime. This problem is further exaggerated by the fact that, the Azeris are themselves a divided nation, separated by the borders of Iran and the Azerbaijani republic. These two circumstances have combined to pose an Azeri dilemma.
Iran: Regionalism, Ethnicity And Democracy Print

Nayereh Tohidi

The latest spate of ethnic-related unrest in Iran was the massive demonstrations of Azeris in Iran's northwestern province of Azerbaijan from 22-28 May 2006. These have highlighted the growing role that ethnic issues play in Iran's domestic politics and international relations; at the same time, their significance has largely been eclipsed by the international attention devoted to the crisis over Iran's nuclear researches. 


We Consider The Insult To The People Of Azerbaijan As Done To Us Print


In the article titled “The Struggle Against Cockroaches” that was published on the Iran Daily on May 12, 2006, cockroaches were depicted as stupid creatures, talking in other people’s language, incapable of using their own. A caricature of a cockroach speaking Turkish accompanied the article. This cockroach was symbolizing the Azerbaijan Turks and was saying: “nemene (What?..)”.

Iran: Cartoon Protests Signal Azeri Frustration Print

Jean-Christophe Peuch

The past few days have seen a string of deadly protests in predominantly Azeri northwestern Iran. What officially triggered the turmoil was the publication in the 19 May weekly supplement to the Tehran-based 'Iran' newspaper of a controversial cartoon showing an Azeri-speaking cockroach. Although "Iran" is a government-owned periodical, authorities blame alleged 'enemies of the country' - a term generally used to describe the United States, Israel, and Britain - for the ethnic unrest. But regional observers believe the controversial cartoon served as a catalyst for Iran's Azeris to press anew for social, economic, and political demands.

Iran New Government Fails To Address Dire Human Rights Situation Print

Amnesty International

The authorities maintain strict controls on freedom of expression and association, and religious and ethnic minorities are subject to persecution. Women are severely discriminated against in both law and practice and those lawyers, journalists and others who dare speak up in support of human rights - Iran’s community of courageous human rights defenders – do so at constant risk of harassment, imprisonment or other abuses by security authorities who are able to act with impunity.

Iranian Azeris: A Giant Minority Print

Ali M. Koknar

Recently in Iran, tens of thousands of Iranian Azeris took to the streets for several days of demonstrations touched off by the May 12 publication of a racist cartoon in the state-run Iran newspaper. (The cartoon depicted an Azeri-speaking cockroach.) Iranian security forces cracked down violently on the demonstrators, killing at least four people (Azeri nationalists claim twenty dead), injuring forty-three, and detaining hundreds of others. These developments indicate brewing discontent among Iran’s Azeri population and should be studied for their implications for U.S. and Western policy toward Tehran.

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