I have received some posts from some people on my blog who try to discredit the Azerbaijani movement by linking to articles on KavehFarrokh.com Dr. Kaveh Farrokh has taught at the University of British Columbia and has written and collaborated on several books about ancient Persian history, military and culture. Dr. Farrokh writes that he is committed to anti-revisionist Persian history.
He (and with the help of a few constituents) is also the harshest and most vocal critic of Faktheh Zamani and Dr. Asgharzadeh on his website www.KavehFarrokh.com. Much of his writing against the Azerbaijani movement can be found under the heading “Historical Revisionism” and the sub-heading “pan-Turkism and pan-Altaism”. He also has a section which is devoted to pan-Arabism and discrediting the Ahwaz movement in the South of Iran. Much of the posts that claim that I am working for pan-Turks reference the posts on Kaveh Farrokh’s website.
In Dr. Farrokh’s defense, I did see a video on youtube where he is presented with an award from WAALM. In his speech, he discusses imagery from the ruins of Persepolis which show that nations from all over Persian empire were equal. I was quite moved by this and I was thinking how great would that be if it were the case in Iran today. So, I decided to e-mail Dr. Farrokh to get an interview with him on why he devotes pages on his website to discrediting Mrs. Zamani and Dr. Asgharzadeh. Unfortunately, I was late with my suggestion and caught him at a bad time, but here is the transcript of our exchange:
Dear Dr. Farrokh,
I currently have a human rights blog posed at representing minority rights in Iran. I am a peace fellow through the Advocacy Project, and I have been chosen to come to Vancouver to work with ADAPP to raise awareness on their organization.
Being that you are the most verbal critic of ADAPP, I wanted to see if I could get a chance to interview you on your side of the matter. My blog is meant to expose feelings that Azerbaijanis and other minorities have on racism in Iran and also to represent Iranian minority groups who are fighting for the ability to have courses in their mother tongues as well as celebrate heroes, such as Babak Khorramdin.
I want to get both sides on my blog. I am a strong proponent of Hegel’s dialectic and I think that dialog is the most important feature to bridge gaps between ideas. I am hear in Vancouver until August 21, 2009. If you have time next week, I would really love to sit and have a video interview. I watched your award speech on youtube and I really liked what you had to say about ancient Persia and various nations being equal regardless of language.
I want to assure you that my cause is a noble one. I was born in Urmia and raised in Washington D.C. I am not out to attack anyone. I just want to raise awareness on civil and human rights in Iran and I would really enjoy your side of the story and your struggle.
If you haven’t already read, by blog is at: http://advocacynet.org/wordpress-mu/farzin/
Dear Farzin (if I may),
Please call me Kaveh. Please note that I have never stated (in print or any other type of media) that minority groups should not speak, read or write their languages. In fact, you will see nothing of that sort in any of my humble writings or interviews: For example, kindly click “Historical revisionism” under my humble site: http://www.kavehfarrokh.com/
My struggle is specifically against historical revisionism, the use of incorrect information, falsified statistics or the re-writing of history to suit political ends. Ethnic chauvenism of any sort (including the Persian/Iranian) is simply wrong and must be condemned. The issue is using the legitimate right of language, culture, etc. in the politicized context of historical revisionism to promote ethnic divisiveness and singularity. Iran from its inception has been multi-lingual. As noted in my humble second book, the lingua franca or common language of the Achaemenid Empire was Aramaic and not Old Persian.
I do understand that certain individuals and groups with certain objectives would find my humble postings unpalatable. But the truth is that none of writings demand the implementation of one language only policies – my humble focus is (as noted): historical revisionism.
Chatting with you would be an honor but I may be away in the Republic of Georgia on an archaeological expedition from the 18th of August. If we cannot get to meet for now, please feel free to post my e-mail in your forum or site . Otherwise you and all readers (friendly or otherwise) can contact me at: email@example.com.
On a personal note, I am also of Azari descent (with a strong dose of Gorji roots – to me an Iranian such as myself is defined by diversity of language, customs, etc. Suppressing that ancient heritage of linguistic and cultural diversity is against the very foundation of Iran (past and present).
My best Regards
Thank you for your e-mail. I was very happy to see that you do promote the role of the various nations in Iran. The truth is that I was quite moved by your speech at the WAALM and it is a good way to bridge the gaps.
The reason I wanted to e-mail you is because you are a historian and are fighting against historical revisionism. However, I have seen (including on my own blog) many folk that have used your works as a pretext to limit language and cultural practices of all nations in Iran.
Being that you are an Iranian, I cannot accept that you would believe that racism does not exist in Iran and among the community outside of Iran. My struggle is not one of history but of civil and human rights and I want to reiterate that my intentions are completely noble. I wanted to know your thoughts on the languages and cultures of Azerbaijanis, Kurds, Baluchis, Turkmens, Ahwazis, Qashqai, Korasanis, Georgians, Afghanis, Armenians etc. and if there should be a role in the overall historical study of Persia. It is my understanding that Persian education is quite aryan-centric and demonizes Gheghis Khan, Alexander the Great etc. Also, many Turkish empires that have existed have been dubbed such names as the “Persian empire under the Seljuks” for example.
Yek Irani on my blog writes about the onslaught of Turks and Mongolians against Persian culture. My blog is not one of history but of using history as a pretext for human and current civil rights abuses that are guaranteed in articles 15 and 19 of the Iranian constitution. I think minorities play a great role in the future of the state and the current policies and racism that is intrinsic in Iranian society is separating them. I would love to read your thoughts.
Farzin e Gerami,
I must profess that I am unqualified to speak of civil liberties and by the looks of things you are far more experienced than I am in this subject. This being said Iranians are not perfect (as I noted in one of posts – pan-Arabism I think). My view of the history of Iran is that it is characterized by diversity from its inception as I noted previously. So again, the issue of language instruction is no issue at all (for me anyhow) as this enhances the overall Iranian identity.
My main issues have been centered against Soviet-era (and czarist era) efforts to re-write Iran’s history and how these efforts were applied in the Transcaucasus. Russian and other European writers in the 19th century (and even in the present) want to downplay the common Turco-Persian or Persiante civilization in favor of separate Iranian and Turkish realms with the aim of having these confront each other. In fact they are one in many ways. I have opened a new link here which may interest you:
Also, in the new blog I emphasize how Turkic peoples actually helped the revival of Persian civilization here:
My comments on Iran’s contemporary politics are invalid I think as I am no political activist and have no such qualifications. My main focus is on challenging historical revisionism wherever it may be (as you may see in my website links). This being said it would be great to chat, so let us keep in touch – hopefully we can touch base upon my return from Georgia.
My Best Regards
p.s. please feel free to post this if you wish
I really regret not having the chance to interview Dr. Farrokh, but I was please to see that he is in support of the proliferation of various languages in Iran. Hopefully, I can interview him upon a return trip to Vancouver that I will make in the future. And maybe possibly I can successfully convince Dr. Farrokh that we are engaged in a human rights struggle and not one of encroaching on Persian history, (the reversal of which is practiced in Iran today). I thank Dr. Farrokh for allowing me to post these e-mails on my blog. Once again, this shows that dialogue is the best avenue for understanding and compromise.
Posted By Farzin Farzad
Posted Aug 15th, 2009