Thursday, February 25, 2010

Linguistic human rights in Iran

We move from Linguistic human rights in Turkey to those in Iran.... Here's a free rendering of what my friend Reza Torabi in Tehran says in his Esperanto blog posted, appropriately enough, on the International Mother Language Day, 21 February:

"Mother! Where is my language?

"To complain about linguistic human rights in Iran is nothing new. Five languages in Iran have more than a million speakers: Persian, Azerbaijani, Kurdish, Arabic and Baluchi. There are also a few other languages whose speakers don't reach a million but a few thousands, for example, the Armenians. In this note, I'd like to touch upon Azerbaijani, which is my mother tongue, and that of some 16-26% of the population of Iran.

"Azerbaijani is a "big problem" in Iran. Many have tried to strongly argue that "Azerbaijani is but an ancient form of Persian, and has no relation whatsoever to Turkish!" (Here's a slew of articles in Persian.) And that the Azerbaijanis are "pure Aryans", and that after the invasion of Azerbaijani territory by the Mongols, the population changed to a Turkic language (?!), and that....

"For 80 years now (since Reza Shah Pahlavi), many linguists, scientists and politicians have tried to prove this theory. The main aim was and remains to wipe out the Azerbaijani language and make the Azerbaijanis believe that "you are lost Aryans, and your language has been poisoned...." Nevertheless, they haven't entirely succeeded in "Persianizing" the Azerbaijanis.

"It's strange that the Iranian revolution changed nothing in this policy of wiping out Azerbaijani, and the new government followed the previous regime in its treatment of minorities, especially the Azerbaijanis.

"The systematic negation of the Azerbaijani language has caused the rise of radical movements in the Azerbaijani region of Iran. The Constitution recognizes the right to learn in the local (mother) language in parallel with the official language (Persian), but it's strange that Armenians (400,000) have a right to do so in their own language, but Azerbaijanis (more than 20 million) don't have a right to even study about their language in Iran (this is true also of the Kurds, the Baluchis, etc.).

"I now want to raise a simple question:

"Millions of people in Iran speak a language called Azerbaijani, which bears no relation to Persian.

"Why can the Azerbaijanis not study in their own language in spite of the fact that their right to do so is enshrined in the Constitution?

"Has the 80-year-old systematic disrespect of the Azerbaijanis in Iran had any success whatsoever?"

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Yet another very sad example how the lack of respect for minority language rights can cause misery and social unrest.
Thank you for this information.