South Azerbaijani Turks demand freedom, human rights in Washington protest
A group of Turkish activists of South Azerbaijan of Iran held a sit-in protest in Washington DC on Sunday, May 21, 2017, to commemorate the 11th anniversary of the 2006 ‘May 22 Uprising’ in South Azerbaijan, which was brutally crushed by the Iranian regime.
The protesters demanded that the Tehran regime releases political prisoners, holding placards and fliers with messages supporting freedom, equality, democracy, human rights and an end to the Iranian regime’s persecution of ethnic minorities. The demonstrators called on the US government and the country’s human rights bodies to take note of the plight of the persecuted minorities in Iran who are struggling for their national rights and identity and for their cultural and political rights, with the Islamic Republic’s regime rejecting all demands for basic human rights and viewing any movements supporting freedom and human rights for Turks, Kurds, Ahwazi Arabs, and Baluchis as a threat to Iran’s national integrity.
South Azerbaijan is a vast region in Northwestern Iran, which is populated predominantly by Azerbaijani Turks. Since Pahlavi regime the ethnic Persian nationalism became the dominant doctrine and consequently anti-Arabism, anti-Turkism became the basis for forming the modern Iranian nation-state.The Persianate dynasty began a policy of eliminating all non-Persian cultural and historical heritage, thus erasing the legacy of the Azerbaijani Turks. The Pahlavi’s and its continued Iranian Islamic regime viewed the Azerbaijani Turkish culture, language, and civilisation as one which posed an existential threat to the dominance of the Persian identity in Iran being that over 30% of the entire population of the fledgling state was comprised of ethnic Turks.
The policies of racial discrimination and humiliation exercised against the Turks by the Iranian regime, on 22 May 2006, resulted in massive riots throughout Iran, most notably in the predominantly Azerbaijani-populated cities of Tabriz, Urmia, Ardabil, Zanjan, Sulduz, Qoshachay and many of smaller towns. The uprising of South Azerbaijani people continued for three weeks. In May 22 hundreds of thousands of people in Tabriz, the historical capital of Azerbaijan revolted against the regime. The security forces shot and killed dozens of people during the peaceful protest. Amnesty international claimed that “hundreds, if not thousands, were arrested and scores reportedly killed by the security forces.” To halt the persecution and discrimination that has plagued South Azerbaijan for decades and protect Azerbaijan’s historical heritage, identity, and dignity, Azerbaijani Turks have taken to multifaceted forms of expression, risking detention, torture, and even death. The modern stage of national struggle, referred to as the “National Movement of Azerbaijan” has consistently grown since the late 1980s. The National Movement of Azerbaijan is now a powerful and well-supported political movement, calling for the social and collective human rights and freedoms of Turkish society in South Azerbaijan.
Today in the 11th anniversary of the May 22 uprising the South Azerbaijan diaspora in Metropolis arena of Washington-D.C gathered to remember their martyrs and protest the Iranian racist regime. They demanded to release of all political prisoner in Iran. The South Azerbaijani diaspora based in Washington strongly believe that all necessary conditions for the self-determination of the Turkish nation in South Azerbaijan should be fulfilled and that self-determination for their nation is a legitimate and legal right.