Farzin Farzad

Farzin Farzad (Association for the Defense of Azerbaijani Political Prisoners in Iran - ADAPP): Farzin is a native Azerbaijani speaker who spent the early years of his life in Iran and Turkey. He graduated in 2005 with a B.A. in political science from McDaniel College with a concentration in international studies and a minor in cross-cultural studies. He then went on to earn a graduate degree in International Affairs from American University in December of 2008. His regional focus was the Middle East, particularly Iranian security. During his undergraduate and graduate studies, Farzin held positions in research and analysis with professors at Johns Hopkins SAIS and Columbia University. As a research intern at the East-West Center, he researched for and helped edit a book on nuclear weapons security in Asia. During the summer of his graduate program, Farzin studied the political history of the Gulf States at the University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. After his fellowship, Farzin wrote: “Ironically, I am more assertive person. Being a 'Peace' Fellow toughened me up.”

Accusations of Pan-Turkism

21 Jul

In this blog I want to address some of the accusations of a response to my blog last week, which was made by someone under the name Yek Irani. This person claimed that my blog “is essentially promoting pan-Turkism under the guise of ‘human rights’.” Bravo! you unlocked the secret conspiracy to my human rights blog, which is the promotion of separatism from Iran and Pan-Turkism. No. First, let me say that I barely knew anything about pan-Turkism until last night I looked it up to discover more for myself after reading your post, and I assure you that I am no pan-Turk.  Let me explain this convenient tactic used by those Persians who are racist to discredit a peaceful movement.

This post illustrates beautifully, more than I could ever do myself, a harsh reality among Iranians. Anyone who works on behalf of a minority group in Iran is called various names in hopes to be discredited. As I have said in my blog, anytime Azerbaijanis try to develop a voice for their rights to learn the language of their mothers and fathers (which are guaranteed in the Iranian constitution) and to celebrate historical figures and culture, they are labeled as pan-turk or separatist. Yesterday’s post response is a good example (I shall henceforth call him Yek Irani which means “an Iranian” because that is the name this person gave him/herself). Pan-Iranists, pan-aryanists and racist Iranians use the same rhetoric, calling people pan-turk and separatist, that the government of Iran uses to detain, torture and murder people for peacefully promoting human rights. In reality, this movement would not even exist if Persians were to give minorities their basic human rights.

If you notice, when the issue of human rights is addressed, racist Persians tend to bring history and genetics into the matter. They claim Babak Khorramdin was Persian and Azerbaijanis did not exist in that time. They assert that they have no claim to him and no right to celebrate him at Babak castle every year (which is banned). Persians claim that Azerbaijanis were once Persians and forced to speak and adopt Turkish language and culture with the invasion of Oghuz Turks. Azerbaijanis, however, describe that they have been a distinct ethnicity long before the the Indo-Aryan settlement of Iran. Anyway, it is pretty bold for one group of people to say “you can’t celebrate someone because he’s ours.”  Another common claim is that Azerbaijani Turks are most genetically linked to Persians because a scientist one time in 2005 decided to take a Azerbaijani Turk and and Persian and compare their DNAs and ruled that they are the same. (Boy, comparing and contrasting genetic features sounds to me a heck of a lot like Nazi Germany) So the then we hear: since we are the same, you should “persianize” and accept your ancient culture and history.  Well, let’s assume that this behavior is OK. How about instead, we send a team of scientists to Iran to sample DNA throughout the country, excavate artifacts and shed some light on Iranian history. The history we read today is not much different from the anti-Ottoman revisionist history of the 19th century and the construction of the Aryanist myth implemented in Nazi Germany. Any argument of a history that kind of contradicts this notion is met with extreme resistance. That aside, genetics is not always a determinant of ethnicity. Ethnicity can be determined by language and culture just the same.

I shall use a deconstructionist approach to falsify Irani’s primary assumption and thus unravel his/her entire argument. First, Yek Irani builds an entire arguement on the assumption that this blog masks pan-Turkism behind the facade of human rights.  Well, frankly, that is impossible. Before my responsibilities to ADAPP, I am a peace fellow with the Advocacy Project, which sends graduate fellows all over the world to provide a voice for the voiceless. It is a highly credible organization focused solely on human rights that has established a partnership with ADAPP, making it possible for me to come here to Vancouver. I believe that Advocacy Project would not partner with any organization that it felt wasn’t peacefully promoting human rights or had an ulterior motive or was in any way fishy. That being said, as a human rights activist, I am indiscriminate on the injustice of people around the world. Minority rights in Iran just happen to be the focus of my fellowship and I am obligated to focus on ADAPP and its activities, which is why I cannot discuss disenfranchised people all around the world. Mr. Irani brings up points about the treatment of Turks around the world on minorities. These are great points, but in response to an accusation of me being a pan-turk. In reality, I am a human rights activist and I am not bound by any loyalty other than to justice and equality. He/she makes a point that my attendance in the Uighur protests do not belong in a blog about minority rights in Iran and that is true and I apologize for my small paragraph on the issue. I was merely expressing my involvement in a demonstration where ADAPP was invited along with Turkic communities throughout Vancouver and the Tibetan community to protest China’s treatment of minorities. We also attended a candlelight vigil in Vancouver for the post-election crisis in Iran and we were not very welcome (I am currently creating a video blog on our experience) I never thought that I would have to apologize for my involvement in a human rights issue. But then, if attending a demonstration for a marginalized people is pan-Turkist, then feel free to call me one. Why do I have to be a pan-Turk to fight against and injustice like this.

Mr. Irani does raise an important point about the demographics. He notes that he pulled facts from Ethnologue citing that 11 million Azerbaijanis live in Iran. Actually, this is sort of a marvel because it has changed recently. Before, I myself quoted Ethnologue for claiming that 23 million Azerbaijanis live in Iran and I guess within the past few weeks that changed on the website. Ethnologue changed it to 11 million and rising, which was estimated in 2001. But Ethnologue also claims that there are 67 million total people in Iran while the World Bank shows 73 million. The CIA world factbook shows that 24% of Iranians are Azerbaijani, which is over 17 million. Azerbaijani activists on the ground claim 30 million. So why is this such a contested issue? This is because the Iranian government has never truly taken a census based on ethnicity. These are all estimates. The last census, conducted in 2006 included data on religion, but not ethnicity. Mr. Irani, you are right, we need an ethnicity census for Iran.

If the Azerbaijanis of Iran are much less than previously estimated, then in reality they have less power and influence than previously assumed. And to say that Iran is in the hands of Azerbaijanis is false. All of those Azerbaijanis who hold power in Iran have spent most of their lives in Tehran and have persianized. They could care less about the treatment of minorities, as I have said time and time and time again.

One thing that is truly disturbing is that Mr. Irani claims that Azerbaijani is taught but just not at the elemetary school level. Truthfully, it is completely banned throughout high school and into college. During the election campagin Ahmadinejad claimed to remove the ban, but we are still waiting for that. Here is a quote from Eurasianet on the issue: During the presidential election campaign, both Mousavi and Ahmadinejad promised to expand civil rights for Azeris. Ahmadinejad, who claimed to speak Turkish, promised to allow Azeri-language classes in universities and schools, the Tabriz source told EurasiaNet. Mousavi, meanwhile, promised to designate Azeri as Iran’s second official language and to grant greater financial autonomy to Azeri-populated regions. We are still waiting Mr. Ahmadinejad.

Now the issue of the cartoon is also a bit disturbing. In a country where racial tensions are so high, the printing of a cartoon which shows an Azerbaijani boy speaking to a cockroach riles a furious crowd. To put it in American terms, it would be the same as a cartoon of a hispanic kid talking to a cockroach and the cockroach saying”que”? Then, it audaciously proceeds to compare the the language to a language of cockroaches and show how to exterminate them… all in the kid’s page of a newspaper! If it isn’t a big deal, tell that to the 10,000 who were arrested, some of which were tortured and the dozens who were killed in the aftermath. Do they not deserve a voice? Were they all pan-Turkists and it is ok to exterminate them like the cockroaches in the cartoon?

Mr. Irani, what is so threatening to Persians about the right to speak their own language or discover their history without someone telling them this is the way it is, you must accept it. Can’t Azerbaijanis see for themselves? If the history of Azerbaijanis and Persians are so intertwined, then beautiful! But what is so threatening about their self-determination then? It is a peaceful movement. I am urging Iranians to change their thinking, to accept the many nations of Iran as equals. If you don’t, you might have a bigger problem than peaceful demonstrations advocating human rights.

Mr. Irani, you are correct about the many injustices in the world. Please set yourself up a blog and blog about those marginalized people around the world who have no voice. I will be your first supporter and I promise not to call you a pan-aryanist. I do support the plight of the Kurds as I have written and the plight of Baluchis (which I will try to devote some time on in the following posts), Turcomens, Uighurs, Talysh, Arabs, Lors, Afghans etc.

Posted By Farzin Farzad

Posted Jul 21st, 2009


  • Farzin

    July 21, 2009


    Oh I forgot to mention that 100% of Iranians speaking Persian is absolutely ridiculous. You get this from a poll of about 1001 people sampled. That is like saying ALL of China can speak Chinese of ALL of Russia can speak Russian. Even in the U.S., does EVERYONE speak English? There are groups of people in Iran that cannot speak Farsi, which ADAPP is actually in contact with.

  • Farzin

    July 21, 2009


    Sorry one last thing, I did not say that Azerbaijanis and Uyghurs share 20-30% of their language, it is probably much higher. I personally could understand that amount. 🙂

  • Yek Irani

    July 21, 2009


    “Persians claim that Azerbaijanis were once Persians and forced to speak and adopt Turkish language and culture with the invasion of Oghuz Turks. Azerbaijanis, however, describe that they have been a distinct ethnicity long before the the Indo-Aryan settlement of Iran.”

    Your problem is that you do not look up a normal Encyclopedia say Encyclopedia Britannica or Encyclopedia of Islam. I am Mazandarani by the way from father’s side. But you need an enemy which is okay. But remember it is not just people in Khorasan and Markaz who are against pan-Turkism. Also it is not about who claims what. Persians do not claim anything, just look up a standard normal Encyclopedia. So you follow pan-Turanist revisionism. I am sorry, again, there was no “Azerbaijani Turk” during the time of Babak Khorramdin. If you think stating history if “racist” then please hold a protest infront of Encyclopedia Britannica, Bernard Lewis, grave of Vladimir Minorsky, Oxford university and etc.

    Oxford University Professor Mark Whittow states:
    “Azerbaijan was the scene of frequent anti-caliphal and anti-Arab revolts during the eighth and ninth centuries, and Byzantine sources talk of Persian warriors seeking refuge in the 830s from the caliph’s armies by taking service under the Byzantine emperor Theophilos. […] Azerbaijan had a Persian population and was a traditional centre of the Zoroastrian religion. […] The Khurramites were a […] Persian sect, influenced by Shiite doctrines, but with their roots in a pre-Islamic Persian religious movement.”

    He is a Persian right?

    How about Encyclopedia of Islam:
    “In the beginning of the 5th/11th century the Ghuzz hordes, first in smaller parties, and then in considerable numbers, under the Seljuqids occupied Azarbaijan. In consequence, the Iranian population of Azarbaijan and the adjacent parts of Transcaucasia became Turkophone while the characteristic features of Ādharbāyjānī Turkish, such as Persian intonations and disregard of the vocalic harmony, reflect the non-Turkish origin of the Turkicised population”

    Here is another Persian by the name Olivier Roy:
    “The mass of the Oghuz Turkic tribes who crossed the Amu Darya towards the west left the Iranian plateau, which remained Persian, and established themselves more to the west, in Anatolia. Here they divided into Ottomans, who were Sunni and settled, and Turkmens, who were nomads and in part Shiite (or, rather, Alevi). The latter were to keep the name “Turkmen”for a long time: from the 13th century onwards they “Turkised”the Iranian populations of Azerbaijan (who spoke west Iranian languages such as Tat, which is still found in residual forms), thus creating a new identity based on Shiism and the use of Turkish. These are the people today known as Azeris.”
    (Olivier Roy. “The new Central Asia”, I.B. Tauris, 2007. Pg 7)

    Now did I claim these Turkicized people (Azerbaijani Turks formed between 14th-16th century as a distinct group according to Gumilev who is generally a pro-Turkic historian) should become Persians? No I did not. But I did call you out on Babak Khorramdin. Only people who disregard academia make such a claim. By the way before the USSR nation building in the republic of Azerbaijan, no one had heared about Babak Khorramdin there. In fact, if you get up your “I know more and I am better” chair, and read history, Babak Khorramdin fought mainly against Turkish mercenaries of the Caliphate in Baghdad and his main enemy was Muta’sim who was half Turk and half Arab.

    Had Babak Khorramdin had success, in actually Azerbaijan might not be Turkic speaking today.

    But myth making is big part of any radical ethno-nationalist movements and historical accuracy is sacrified.

    As per Turkish class in Iran, yes it is thought in the university level but you might not have heared of it. Citing a news cite is not sufficient. I can also cite a book:

    Annika Rabo, Bo Utas, “The role of the state in West Asia”, Swedish Research institute in Istanbul , 2005. pg 156. Excerpt:”There is in fact, a considerable publication (book, newspaper, etc.) taking place in the two largest minority languages in the Azerbaijani language and Kurdish, and in the academic year 2004-05 B.A. programmes in the Azerbaijani language and literature (in Tabriz) and in the Kurdish language and literature (in Sanandaj) are offered in Iran for the very first time”

    As an example, you might want to lookup Sadiq Mohammad Zadeh (Duzgun) and Dashghin who thought Azerbaijani Turkish classes in Iran universities. I’ll be happy to send a pictureof Kurdish classes in Mariwan in the summer two years ago. So you are simply being dishonest. It is fact Iranian government does not advertise these issues, thus under the guise of human rights you guys (Miss Zamani) pursue pan-turkism.

    So what you say is not correct. If the language is banned, then why is Khamenei speaking it?

    Why is the leader of the country speaking a banned language?

    So Azeri-Turkish is not banned. It is just not thought from elementary or highschool level from government money, just like in the Qajar era, the traditional Maktabs also only though Persian and Arabic. It is not thought from government money in university level (till possibly recently) but it is thought privately. Why didn’t the Qajars teach it? Why didn’t constitutional revolution mention it and made Persian the official language? Because simply the education and common language of Iranians has been Persian for historical reasons. It is not the government of Iran’s job to teach 20 dialects and languages while there are areas that do not have schools or teachers even in main subjects. There are private classes in Azeri and in universities. It might not be perfect but you can bet it is ahead of Turkey and Eastern Armenia (you know which country I mean, when I see part of Iran’s name distorted that is how I might act). There are government based radio and t.v. broadcasts..

    Do you think Arabs in France should start elementary school learning French or Arabic? Is the french government denying their human right by teaching them French instead of Arabic?

    Do you think given the tens of dialects and languages in Iran, it is plausible for the government of Iran or say US to teach every existing dialect or language since the elementary level? The word banned is not the same as it is not thought. It is simply not thought with government money. And there is nothing unfair about this, most languages in the world are not thought (there are 200 languages about which are thought from 1 to 12 and there exists 6000 languages and dialect). Spanish is not thought from 1 to 12 in the US despite 20% of the population being Hispanic and actually Spanish predating English in some states (in the case of Turkish we know it is the most recent language in Middle East and Caucasus and has pushed out Armenian, Talyshi, Persian, Greek and etc.).
    So the issue is about governance not human rights.

    Your claim that there was never demographic census in Iran. This is not the whole truth There have been sufficient samples taken. And also IRI has population statistics based on region (not just religion). Region is sufficient to make a good guess. A major one was done during the Shah’s time and several have been done in IRI (language):

    50,0000 mothers who gave birth in one month seems accurate and was encompassing.

    The US census done recently by terror free tommorow has a margin of error of 3%. That is how random sampling works if you study elementary statistics. That means the Azeri population is 17-23%. These are comprehensive if you study statistics, because in statistics 1000 people (randomly sampled) from 60,000,000 gives a margin error of 3% .. It is called the law of large numbers which you can lookup if you know the necessary mathametics.

    You say:”If the Azerbaijanis of Iran are much less than previously estimated, then in reality they have less power and influence than previously assumed.”

    No they have not. Because Azerbaijanis are Shi’i and they control a big portion of the Bazar, economy and military. For example, Jews are a powerful minority in the US but not based on population (they are 2%). But they are much more influential than say Muslims (2% or more). Because population size does not necessarily have to do with power or size. Infact Azerbaijanis are more represented in the economy and bazar than all other Iranians (I have statistics I can bring here too).

    As per the cockroach issue, you have the least clue here. It is not the kid who was claimed to be an Azerbaijani but it was pan-Turks who claimed it was the cockroach.

    Here is an academic report on the issue:

    and here is an Azerbaijani view on it:

    The cartoonist himself (Naya Neyestani) has denied that the cartoon had anything to do with Azerbaijanis. So why repeat the same lie? And no the government did not arrest 10,000 people. Your numbers are not based on verifiable reports (and I mean verifiable not some report some organization or politically interested person gives to a so called human rights organization for furthering propaganda). But you can blame t.v.’s like Gunaz (with their constant hatred against Iranians, Kurds, Armenians) for trying to incite something that went no where.

    But victimhood is nice. Because given the fact that most Azerbaijanis are not pan-Turkist and given the fact that the population is around 12 million (out of 70 million), claiming to be a victim will enhance geopolitical interest of pan-Turkism.

    Also you said:
    “All of those Azerbaijanis who hold power in Iran have spent most of their lives in Tehran and have persianized. ”

    Note the actual population of East Azerbaijan, Ardabil, Zanjan and half of West Azerbaijan is about 7 million. I added 4-5 million ( a very high number) for Azeris in Tehgran. Without this number, you are saying that “real Azeris” are 10% of the population. Since when does 10% or 20% gets the right to choose the official and teaching language of the country? (assuming all these 10%s are with you which they are not!). The fact is that if you were into human rights, you would not disagree with teaching a national language. Insead you are advocating that Azerbaijanis do not learn Persian but learn Azerbaijani. This is not human rights. In a country, you need to learn the official language. If you had a language issue, then you could have asked for replacement of Arabic (thought from early elementary level in Iran) with Azerbaijani Turkish. Why don’t you do this?

    Finally, you did not answer my direct question. How could an organization which claims that KDP (Kurdish democratic party) is a terrorist organization and Iran is a “so called country” guise itself under human rights when its pan-Turkism already stinks?

    Farzin, you are either Naive or you know what you are doing. But you won’t fool very intelligent Iranians. The internet Archive has recorded what Zamani wrote:

    It is forever recorded in internet archives!

    So how many Iranians do you think will believe Miss Zamani once they read about the petition she tried to delete (but it is not the internet archive).

    I am not sure if you will post this message.. but I have saved it and may post it somewhere else.

  • Yek Irani

    July 21, 2009


    One more thing. The Iranian constitution does not say “DO not learn Persian and teach every language from 1st to 12th grade”. It says that teaching the literature of other languages is “free” (Azaad). Zoroastrianism and Judaism are also Azaad (free) in Iran (unlike say Bahais) but that does not mean they are national/official.

    So two mistakes:
    1) It does not say do not teach Persian.
    2) It does not say the medium of education should be any language. Rather it says the teaching of the literature of that language is “Azaad”. Teaching of literature is not banned in Iran.

    And by the way the census of 1001 people has 3% margin of error. And it is about understanding not reading or writing. However CIA factbook puts literacy rate in Iran about 80% and since education is done in Persian, it means at least 80%. Among illiterate people, it is not hard to imagine 70% know Persian.. so something like 95% is plausible.

    Please read this:

    and use this simple calculator:

    Put 4%, then put 70 million and see how many samples you need for 95% and 99% Margin of error.

    50,000 (which is 1375 survey) is 99.99..% accurate and is when the Iranian government issue birth-certificate for all mothers who gave birth in one month. If you want to call something ridicolous, at least learn the mathematics behind it.

    You can tell Fakhteh Khanoom, neither Iran is going anywhere nor is the place of Persian language going to be changed with a new and minority Turkic language in Iran. Smart Iranians know what is relatively exact demographics in Iran. At most it will be thought in schools alongside Persian and then we will make sure Turkey does the same for its 20 million Iranic Kurds, which we would rather have than rabid anti-Iranians who feel closer to Uighyurs in China than other Iranians.

  • Yek Irani

    July 21, 2009


    Just some other points:


    Why was it deleted? Because in the end it unmasks the human rights cover.

    Advocacy group, ADAPP and etc. and “human rights” is a tool that will be used due to IRI’s opposition to the West on some geopolitical issues. However these groups do not fool normal Iranians.

    Shahin Abbasov (not reliable) from RFE and interviewing someone in Turkey (less reliable).

    However I can also quote Robert Fisk:

    “But I must repeat what he said. “The election figures are correct, Robert. Whatever you saw in Tehran, in the cities and in thousands of towns outside, they voted overwhelmingly for Ahmadinejad. Tabriz voted 80 per cent for Ahmadinejad. It was he who opened university courses there for the Azeri people to learn and win degrees in Azeri”

    However, I did not mention news sources. I gave you the name of two guys “Sadiq Mohammad Zadeh” and this other guy “Dashqin” who have thought Azerbaijani-Turkish freely in universities such as Isfahan, Tehran and etc. I’ll be glad to send you a picture of Kurdish summer class from Marivan as well.

    If I say Azerbaijani Turkish group was formed between 14th-16th century from mainly Turkicized Persians, it does not mean I want to make you into an Iranian, Iranic or Persian or etc.

    But it is true that the Seljuqs came and over the centuries these people were Turkified. But Babak Khorramdin lived long before this era, so he was Iranian (in the ethnic sense) not Turkish.

    I am just stating a fact which normal scholars have mentioned. However you have taken a very battle mentality “Persians say this but Azerbaijanis say that”. What kind of argumentation is that? Who cares what average uniformed Persians or Azerbaijanis say?
    Just do a search on Safinayeh Tabriz or go to Maqbarat al-Shora’a.. about 50+ poets are buried there and only one has work in Turkish (10% ofhis output). That is Seyyed Mohammad Hossein Shahriyar. Whom by the way would not be an Oghuz Turk, “Seyyed” means descendant of the Prophet. But he is culturally an Azerbaiijani.

    A very Pro-pan-Turkic source is Swietchowski:

    “Azerbaijan maintained its national character after its conquest by the Arabs in the mid-seventh century A.D. and its subsequent conversion to Islam. At this time it became a province in the early Muslim empire. Only in the 11th century, when Oghuz Turkic tribes under the Seljuk dynasty entered the country, did Azerbaijan acquire a significant number of Turkic inhabitants. The original Persian population became fused with the Turks, and gradually the Persian language was supplanted by a Turkic dialect that evolved into the distinct Azerbaijani language. The process of Turkification was long and complex, sustained by successive waves of incoming nomads from Central Asia.”

    So your claim that Babak Khorramdin was Azerbaijani Turk (when such a group did not exist) in my opinion is a clear sign of pan-Turkis historiography and manipulation of facts. If historical facts are manipulated, so will other facts in my opinion.

    Well good luck on “human rights” projects. I am sorry that I am not convinced.

  • Yek Irani

    July 21, 2009


    Again you generalize.. “Persians” you mean which Persians? All the people that speak Persian as their native language? Persianized Azeris of Tehran (in your words?) Shomalis like me? Did I tell you how to think? So how did those orientalists become Persian? Where are the orientalists that support your position then?

    Fakhteh Zamani’s record is clear:
    I don’t care about Dr. Farrokh but I used a web link which had this petition link. If it was legitimate she would not attempt to delete it and de-activate it.

    As per Said Matinpour, I can’t confirm or deny anything as I have not found any actual reliable 3rd party reports (and by 3rd party I mean not information fed by Miss Zamani to naive oragnizations who cannot confirm or verify things on the ground). I did look up Alireza Farshi and founded very typical fascist statements.

    However, just like I would not go to Iran to protest human rights against another country, I would not go to Turkey in pan-Turkism conference. Or I would not go to Nazi Germany (even if invited) and speak about human rights. But of course, Matin Pour thinks he is an Oghuz and Turkey (with less than 10% of the people carrying Turkish DNA) is the Oghuzism center. So why not?

    Instead I would first protest what are known to academics as Armenian, Greek, Assyrian genocides or the poor situation of Kurds there. That is the complete wipe out of native Greeks and Armenians would be of concern to me. Of course you might say: “Armenians/Greeks believe they were there first but Turks believe they were there first”.

    As per Baluchs and Kurds, those are minor leftist groups. There some political leftist groups, but I am half Kermanshahi and those few leftist Kurds are not representative of Iranians. Fakhteh Zamani’s deleted petitition is very clear on what she really thinks. These are tactical moves.

    I am not worried about disintegration of Iranzamin because disintegration of Turkey and Arran will follow. Already 20% of their land is disintegrated.. As long as there are 100+ million Iranic speaking people, there is always Iranian civilization. The language of Ferdowsi, Nezami, Rumi, Hafez and etc. is part of humanity and has done much more for world civilization than its enemies might want to accept.

    Majority of people killed by IRI recently have been from Tehran and overwhelmingly from the beginning of revolution, even Iranian nationalists like Dariush Fouhar have been killed or etc. So the government does not like opposition. However the government has not arrested or tortured anyone for calling for schools in any language as even the candidates used this issue as well as local newspapers have mentioned it and none of them were arrested. For example petitions were signed (very small number) with real names, but those people that signed such petitions were not arrested. So it is obvious Matinpour and Farshi took up political activities and like 1000s of other political activities in Iran, they were given the IRI treatment which is color/ethnic blind. The human rights charade cannot be ethnicized. I support human rights for all Iranians, not just a select group because they speak Turkic (like Matinpour going to Turkey or ADAPP going for Uighyurs).

    Final question. What do you think of trading 20 million Iranic Kurds of Turkey for the likes of Zamani, Farshi, Matinpour who love Turkey and hate Iran and want to live in their pan-Turkic heaven? I mean trading the land or population exchange would work. That is what Iranians like myself will work towards rather than wasting our time.

  • Yek Irani

    July 21, 2009


    “South Azerbaijan, an area located in the North West of the so-called country of Iran. ”
    That is the key point.
    As per Kurdish democratic party, only pan-Turks would call them “terrorist” and you won’t find a single organization that does (except IRI).

    So why would she delete this if it was legitimate? 🙂

    It really unmasks the whole facade doesn’t it? “So called Iran” occupying “Southern Azerbaijan”! So as you can see, if I call your group and her a separatist, I have my argument and proof.

    On census again see the link I gave you. It has actual census. A comprehensive one too before the revolution and a comprehesnive one for month for all mothers that gave birth. Yes Iran needs a census every year even on every matter for better data. But read that link I gave you on statistics, it explains sample size, margin of error, uniform sampling and confidence level. The math is not too complicated. So 1001 gives an extremly good indicator if it is done randomly and uniformly as it was done in that poll.

    And no one claimed a region is 100% one race.. we don’t have race in Iran but ethnic groups. But one can say for example Tabriz is 95% Azeri speaking city and Mashhad or Isfahan are 95% Persian speaking cities. So if you are familliar with the region, you know for example East Azerbaijan, Zanjan, Ardabil were considered 100% Azeri by me (its an estimate but good one although Tats, Talysh, Kurds and other minorities do live there). 50% of West Azerbaijan (a good estimate). That makes near 7 million people. There is no way 7 million Azeris live outside of these regions, but I counted 5 million (Persianized Azeris for you) in Tehran and 2 million (a clear upperbound) outside of Tehran and those four regions. Outside of those 7 million, please tell us how pan-Turkist organizations get 35 million. That is please show us the 28 million others!

    So an upperbound and high one is 14 million. There is also complete IRI census on the percentage of population that knows Persian well (as native) and etc. It is just a fact that you have not researched these just like you probably did not know about the 1375 census where all mothers who were issued birth certificates were asked about their native language and Azeri was 20.6%.

    Anyhow I thank you for not at least censoring me.

  • Yek Irani

    July 21, 2009


    “Why do you keep bringing back the pan-Turan or pan-Turkist movement.”
    Because Fakhteh Zamani and your group is one.

    “So you are essentially saying that you agree with the Iranian government for beating, torturing, destroying the families of, hanging, excessive detention of those who say “we want Turkish language schools and to practice our own culture.” ”

    Nope never said that. I said the Iranian government takes action against those that take political actions not those that ask for language schools. Else there have been normal people asking for ethnic language schools in variety of newspapers and Iranian government did not arrest them.

    “Don’t put words in people’s mouths.” Again, that would be a good advice for you. I did not generalize did I? However PKK is a large Kurdish group. Those one/two man groups you talk too do not reprsent Kurds (and by the way lookup where Kermanshah is).

    ” I think that Iran should be a federalist state where each minority has the right to self-determination and no body has the right to claim the future of an ethnicity. ”

    Nope that does not work in the sense that Iran belongs to all Iranians. Your opinion is just a political correctness to breakup Iran. Why should a few Turks who came to Iran much later have the right to separate from Iran? Also it is up to majority of Iranians to determine their government. What if they do not want federalism? Then what? Do you support self-determination for Armenians in Karabagh? Or Kurds in Turkey? That is what PKK is fighting for right?

    And by the way the petition called Komaleh and Hezbe-e-Democract Kurdistan as terrorist as well.

    “Wouldn’t you be upset if I started calling you a pan-Aryanist who loves Nazi Germany and hates Jews? I would actually like to thank you. I shall devote my next blog to pan-Aryanism and the racist mentality in Iran.”

    I know a fat bald short guy who tried to do the same thing but lacked any knowledge of history.
    You can say that, but Aryanist has nothing to do with Iranians. Aryanist believes in a blue-eyed blond hair superior race. Iranians are Indo-Iranians and are separate. Pan-Aryanism would mean either Pan-Nordicism or pan-Indo-Europeanism. It does not exist. “Iran” is related to “Aryan” in the original sense of the word, but not the 19th century intrepretation. As per “racist” mentality in Iran, it does not exist (few jokes are not racist). However, I can bring up massacares of millions of Iranians at the hand of Turks in centuries. For example most of the Mongol troops were Turks. So millions of Iranians massacared by Turks is nothing compared to a few jokes.

    I really think the best solution is simply trade the 20 million Kurds of Turkey for the anti-Iranians who feel closer to Uighyurs and Turkey than other Iranians.

    I have nothing else to say.

  • Yek Irani

    July 21, 2009


    Sorry you could be genuine..But Miss Zamani calls Iran ” a so called country”. So I might have by mistake done guilt by association.

    Pan-Arabism’s history is complicated but it started in the Ottoman empire with the encouragement of the British. Its results such as the massacare of Kurds and Shi’ites and the attack on Iranians and Saddam Hussein’s claim that Persians and Jews and Flies should not be created.. are all well known.

    Pan-Turanism is based on a dead linguistic theory. At one time all non-IE and non-semitic language( Uralic, Dravidian and Altaic, Mongolic, Japanese, Korean languages..) were proposed to be from the Turanic family. Pan-Turanism wanted to unite these groups in a political state. It only gained some favor in Ottoman empire.

    Pan-Turkism similarly was a reactionary movement based on linguistic nationalism. After repeated defeat by Russians, a Tatar named Kusravi started this proposal. Later on, the young Turk movement picked it up and it ended in the Armenian, Assyrian, Greek Genocides in Anatolia.

    Pan-Iranism started much later than pan-Turkism and pan-Arabism. Its proposer was an Azerbaijani Iranian by the name of Mahmud Afshar. It was proposed as a result of pan-Turkism and its claim on Iranian Azerbaijan. Some Azeris like Kasravi, Mahmud Afshar and etc. thus tried to show Azerbaijan was Iranian territory (they are correct) and the people there adopted Turkish later (at the time of Kasravi this theory wasn’t developed but later on as you can see orientalists agree).

    For a detailed viewpoint on how modern Iranian nationalism (which you call racism!) developed see here:

    A major portion of it had to do with separatism that was threatening Iran in Azerbaijan (not by local Azerbaijanis but by Ottoman based groups) and also separatist propaganda emanating from the Caucasus:

    I did not mean to be mean or angry.. I apologize. However, no matter how good your intent is, you are being used by people whose intent might not be good as you think. If you believe in God..maybe he will let you see that. And God knows best.

    Take care and I won’t bother you anymore.

  • Yek Irani

    July 21, 2009


    I noticed I forgot to answer your question.

    Pan-Aryanism and Aryanism.. are both white supremacist concepts. Nothing to do with Iranians who are not generally blond hair and blue eyed! Aryanism has nothing to do with Iranians except the word “Aryan” which is cognate of Iran. “Aryanism” means belief in that blue eyed blond hair nordic people are superior. Such a concept never exised in Iran.
    See the word Aryan here:

    In the Iranian context, Aryan has nothing to do with the German-Nazi concept! In the Iranian context it refers to the ancient Medes, Persians, Scythians and etc. who were also called Aryans.

    Now pan-Iranism. Pan-Iranism does not exist in Iran in any power level, since Ayatollah Khomeieni directly condemned pan movements. Even the major propoent of it, Dariush Foruhar (you can look him up) was brutually murdered by the regime.

    On how pan-Iranism started and why it started and who started it:

    Anyhow, assuming yours goals are noble, in my opinion you are being manipulated. Human rights if it is universal concept is for all Iranians in Iran, not just one or another language or dialect. Many Iranians were arreted, beaten and etc. recently for wanting change recently. If I just concentrate on Iranians arrested in Mazandaran, you in Azerbaijan, the other guy in Tehran.. you can make sure nothing will change in Iran. A democratic system by itself (which majority of Iranians) will bring human rights. But those that say “so called country of Iran” will also use human rights to further other interest. All I can ask in my final word to you is evaluate and think about it and see.

  • Yek Irani

    July 21, 2009


    Thanks.. Your a good guy for not censoring and listening to the opposite viewpoint. That shows great character.

    If you get the time, I would read the last article I pointed out. There are reasons why Iranians are sensitive about this stuff. You will also see the root of 20th century Iranian nationalism and how it started. It is written by an Iranian Azerbaijani.

    I did not mean to insult your intelligence, but I just wanted to give a friendly advice. You can disregard it if you wish, but I don’t have a bad intention. If someone claims they have noble goal and want you to join it or with it, I would investigage it, think about it, and in the end Ask God for help and look into my heart and gut feeling if they are genuine. Thats all.

  • Altay

    July 23, 2009


    I have a quation wich friends might answer,
    why “pan iranism” or “pan farsism” or other “pan”s can be easily expressed and even for many people caries positive charge!!(still a semi_legal party with the name of pan iranist exists in iran or many Arabs are proud of Jamal Abdolnasir) but when it comes to word “Pan Turkism” everybody extremely panics!!!and the person who has been called” Pan Turk” screems “I am not”,even the guy drowns himself in the ocean of the love of other nationalities to prove that “he is not”!

  • mansour

    July 25, 2009


    thx farzin for your reply,go on writing. i am reading

    as iranian azeri and IRANIAN i want to see REAL changes towards us and i think ppl like you who have points can help


  • Yahya

    July 27, 2009


    Yek Irani tries to justify the current brutal suppress of Non-Persians in Iran by talking about some ancient dynasties. However, I can not understand the relevance of them to the current struggle of Azerbaijani’s to gain their basic human rights.

    The realty is that Iran is not just the home of Persians. For thousand years Azerbaijani- Turks, Kurds, Arabs and Bluchs as well as Persians lived in Iran. Their Language, Culture, Music, and every thing that represents the ethnic identity are different and should be respected.

    With regard to other arguments of Yek Irani I found them mostly false. For example he says “Azeri-Turkish is not banned. It is just not thought (taught) from elementary or high school level from government money, just like in the Qatar era, the traditional Maktabs also only though Persian and Arabic.” This argument is completely false!

    In Qajar era, before Pahlavi regime, there has been no formal governmental language no modern educational system and in fact in daily life all three major languages, including Arabic, Turkish and Persian are used indiscriminately.

    When Pahlavi regime established the current system of education in 1920s, not only any Iranian languages other the Persian is banned but also the government of Iran started a serious campaign using every possible tool to eradicate Non-Persion identities in Iran. Most important part of this campaign has been concentrated on Azerbaijanis as they were the most important part of the society (population, knowledge, wealth and …). The Azerbaijani language formally banned and whoever dared to publish any thing in this language -especially educational materials- has been severely punished. The new policy aimed to make non-Persians to be ashamed of their identity. In my opinion this tool which Yek Irani can see a few current examples of it in this blog, in fact, is a very powerful and of course a cruel means to force people to be ashamed of their true identity. People to avoid being labeled as stupid, would be willing to distance themselves from their own culture. The major goal of all policies was and still is to force Azerbaijanis to call themselves as Persians and distance from their own identity as an Azerbaijani Turks.

    I believe these kinds of tactics are much more disgusting than the punishing or putting people in the jail. What the world would say if the Apartheid Regime of South Africa had forced the black people to go under certain chemical or surgical procedure to change their color to be accepted in the country? Would Yek Irani support this cruelty while calling himself a human rights supporter?

    One of Yek Irani’s arguments reminds me the Iranian government’s current propaganda. Yek Irani closes his eyes to the abuse of human rights in Iran and instead talks about alleged discrimination in other countries. This is similar to Mr. Ahmadi Nejad’s current protest about the alleged violation of human rights in France, Germany and Canada while Neda and many other brave and young Iranians were being killed by his men.

    I believe the current struggle of Iranians cannot gain a real and genuine success unless the concept of cultural and linguistic identity of Iran is defined based on the realty rather than the historic myths about so called Persian Empire of several thousand years ago.


  • Yek Irani

    July 29, 2009


    Dear Yahya
    Unfortunately, I do not believe you are talking sense.

    1) If the issue is racism and discrimination, then we can clearly state Turks came to Azerbaijan and ethnically cleansed the native Iranian/Armenian/Kurdish population. Turks cannot be claimed to be oppressed in Iran after 1000 years of historical injustice done against Iranians and being present in every level. If the Pahlavids did something small, it is no where comparable to repeated massacres of Iranians by Turkic nomads, Mongols (majority of them who were Turks), Ottomans, Turkmens and etc. So I am sorry I do not buy the feeling of oprresion from your side. Indeed if it is a comparison to South Africa, one can say 1000 years of Turkish and Turcophone imperialism was ended in Iran during the Pahlavid era. So as you can see, we see history differently and there is nothing to establish which is the superior view or the right view.

    So lets get to the technical point.

    The traditional school in Iran was the Maktab system which educated in Arabic and Persian. Whoever was educated was educated through these languages. Dar al-Fonoon setup by Amir Kabir did not say have a Turkish deparment. Most other languages did not have a strong literary tradition. For thousand year (even before the formation of an Azerbaijani-Turkic group), the major languages have been Persian and Arabic. Turkic when it entered was not a formal written language in the sense that you won’t find much stuff in philosophy, literature, history, science, religion and etc. in Turkish. But you can find many of these in Persian and Arabic. So Persian to a large extent played the role of Latin and to be an educated person in the Qajar era, Persian was necessary, Turkish was not. One cannot expect the transition from Maktab system to modern education system to be abrupt. Also most languages had hardly any texts in them and one cannot expect the government at that time to go and write school books for each language and even create alphabets for them. Because the concept of ethnic identity was not even prominent at that time, specially since the vast majority people did not care about this issue. So it is obvious only languages with a long literary and written history (in Iran it is only Persian and Arabic) were used in the modern education system.

    As per what you said:
    “Azerbaijani language formally banned and whoever dared to publish any thing in this language -especially educational materials- has been severely punished. ”

    There are now many Azerbaijani publications in Iran. So it is not banned now. Also given that the language was somewhat restricted during the Pahlavid era, it had to do with the realistic fear of separatism which was tried in WWI, WWII and other times. As I pointed out, the issue of minimizing Turkish influence was spearheaded by Azerbaijani intellectuals who had a real fear of Azerbaijan being separated from Iran.

    Also Heydar Baba of Shahriyar was published in the Pahlavid era. So it was not absolute ban in the Pahlavid era unlike say Turkey with Kurds. However, right now it is not banned and even government newspapers are published in it.

    The Qajars who were much more cruel than Pahalvids were Turks. They discriminated against Iranian tribes like Lurs and Bakhtiaris and etc. Qajars easily killed 30,000 people in Kerman alone.

    The historical and current reality is that Iranians did well against Turkification of Iran and Iran in the end is an “Iranian” country with 76-80% of the population speaking Indo-Iranian languages. Among Azerbaijani Iranians, a good number of them also identify with Persian empire, Persian literature and the Iranian heritage. Some of them due to the influence of newly madeup Turkic identity after the collapse of Ottoman empire will try to disassociate Azerbaijan from the rest of Iran culturally, but that will be hard. For example when you go to Maqbareyeh Sho’ara you will not find any Turkish poets except Shahriyar (90% of his work is in Persian). So despite differences in various regions there are strong bonds of Azerbaijanis to the rest of Iran. Had the Qajars stayed in power, maybe there would be more people Turkified in Iran due long term Turkic imperialism. The number of Turcophone speaks was estimated to be 1 million out of 6 million during the Qajar era. It is pretty much the same ratio today. However, the turcophone number increased sincence the advent of Oghuz Turks in the area which slowly evaporated portions of Iran that spoke Persian languages. Fortunately, this era was ended by Reza Shah. Today the historical identity of Iranians is still based on the major Iranian empires Sassanids, Achaemenids, Medes, Parthians and did not reset to zero because of the Oghuz invaders. The name Iran itself goes back to at least the Sassanid era. Azerbaijan goes back to the Achaemenid era (Atropatene) and the name Azerbaijan pre-dates the arrival of Turks in the region by at least 1000 years. The Seljuqs, Ghaznavids and etc. also lacked a sophisticated Turkic culture and were forced by the original inhabitants to adopt Persian culture. The Turks managed to wipe out Iranian civilization or languages from Arran, Sherwan and Azerbaijan, a good deal of Central Asia but overall Iranian civilization is alive. Despite the nonsense coming from pan-Turkists, it is well known that Turcophones today are not 35 million, but more around 12-14 million. And many Turcophone Azerbaijanis still identify with Iran. Despite the fact that Turks wipe out completely Armenian and Greek cultures of Anatolia, Iranians overall were still able to save approximately 1/2 of their territory despite 1000 years of foreign rule. So, I am sorry, a small extreme group of Turkish speaking minorities among what can be estimated to be no more than 20% Turcophones in Iran is not going to decide how the majority of Iranians will define their history.

    The culture and linguistic identity of Iran is still predominanetly defined by Achaemenids, Medes, Parthians and etc heritages.

    No matter how much funding Turkey, Aliev and etc. give, that is the reality on the ground. Y

    our issue is not about human rights, but about re-establishing the 1000 years of Turkish and Turcophone imperialism in Iran. It has to do with conflict of Iranian and Turkish civilizations in several areas today like Kurds in Turkey, Kurds /Turokmens in Iraq, Tajiks in Uzbekistan, Talysh,Kurds in Arran/Sherwan and Turks in Iran. Azerbaijan as a historical Iranian territory that has recently be linguistically Turkified is another place for such occurences.
    As per other countries, I did not bring up Uighyurs in China and I see the pan-Turk movement as an extension of other countries and a threat to Iranian civilization.

    As per Kurds, Baluch they are Iranian and identify with Iranian empires such as Achaemenids, Parthians and etc. and pre-Islamic Iran. They have been discriminated against by Safavids and Qajars due to imposition of Shi’ism but you know they don’t have anything in common with Turks and are considered Iranians from a history and anthropological viewpoint. Maybe Azerbaijan lost its original Iranian language(note there was no Azerbaijani-Turk in Iran for thousands of years, such an ethnicity did not exist a thousand years ago), but the rest of Iran did not and so all the pan-Turkist stuff will not change the predominant identity of the majority of Iranian nation. Iranians (that is the vast majority of people living in Iran) will strongly identify Achaemenids, Shahnameh, Sassanids, Nezami, Babak, Shams Tabrizi, Hafez, Sa’adi, Nowruz, and etc. There is a reason Iran was called Persia in the West, by Arabs, Greeks and etc. and not say Turkistan. So history will not change just because some Turks don’t like Iran and its ancient history.

    Turks as a minority will have no choice but to respect the predominant Iranic identity of the majority of country and majority of Iranians will never identify with Oghuz Khan , Dede Qorqud, Oghuz tribes and etc. There is some overlap of Iranian civilization and Turkic civilization in some countries, but overall just like Iranian minorities (say Kurds) in Turkey will have to respect the laws of Turkey, there will be the same here. Currently Azerbaijanis in Iran are not considered a minority, but the sort of ethnic extremism you are pushing will make them a minority.

    I have nothing more to add, as there nothing we see eye to eye as my reading of history is totally different than yours. But I can say at least mine is factual in terms of its data.. The fact is to some extent Iranian civilization has had conflicts with Turkish one in history and this website and your comments and my comments is a small manifestation of that historical conflict. However, I care about the human rights of all people in Iran (Torks include) and you care about promoting the interests of neighboring countries.

  • Farzin

    July 30, 2009


    Well I have to at least give it up to Yek Irani for coming prepared for each response.

  • Canadian

    July 31, 2009



    Farzin I just wanted to ask you, do you also advocate and support the rights of Kurds in Turkey? You do know that the situation of Kurds in Turkey is much worse. The Kurds have been at war for decades and over 40,000 people have died against the Turkish army.

    Turkey’s government builds a dam to bring drought to Kurdish villages. In Turkey, they put a sign in Kurdish villages saying “how lucky it is to be a Turk”. Turkey’s government has caused a massive population dispersement of Kurdish people.

    I wonder, are you advocating Kurdish peoples rights too?

  • Canadian

    July 31, 2009


    Hi again,

    I just find it very hypocritical of these political groups that have fascist agendas in reality. Similar to the pan-aryanists. These Turkish Political groups are far more racist. I just read in your blog how some turkic groups went to protest against China and it’s recent unrest with it’s minorities.

    The apalling crimes committed by the Turkish state against the Kurdish people are by far much worse. But you never see these turkic groups standing up for human rights for Kurdish people.

    If you want to compare the Kurds in Turkey, and Azari’s in Iran, there is no comparison at all. Turkey’s brutal oppression and disgusting fascist crimes against humanity are in no comparison to Iran.

    People have a natural tendency to be stooped and fooled into having false pride in the guise of nationalism. Language is just a means of communication, it doesn’t mean that is your “team”. Azari Iranians by the way, though their language is turkic it has strong influences and strong similarities with Farsi as well. The language is structurally turkic, but has Farsi grammatical as well as vocabulary, phonetic similarities. Or it shares vice-versa.

    Iranian azaris must have the rights to learn and study in their language. This I agree totally on, and the pan-farsists are ignorant on these matters. In reailty though, language is just a means of communication, ethno-centrism is a step back to mid-evil times. Diversity needs to be embraced and segragation removed.

  • Farzin

    July 31, 2009


    My current fellowship and the purpose of this blog is for minority rights in Iran. My work primarily involves the Azerbaijani community of Iran and I try to do my best to include any information that I have on various other minorities, which include Kurds in Iran. Feel free to post your thoughts, though. As long as your posts are coherent and do not use vulgar language, I will not censor your posts.

  • Canadian

    July 31, 2009


    Dear Farzin,

    Thank you, I don’t like to use vulgar language. I don’t know why you would say that. I have not written anything that’s vulgar or impolite.

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