Although I haven’t left for Vancouver yet, I’ve been quite busy here in D.C. working for ADAPP, my partner organization. Let me first start by introducing the Association for the Defense of Azerbaijani Political Prisoners in Iran (ADAPP) and what I will be doing for them. ADAPP is a minority rights organization based in Vancouver, Canada whose principal purpose is to raise awareness of the maltreatment of Azerbaijanis vying for cultural and linguistic rights. It was founded by Fakhteh Zamani, an ethnic Azerbaijani who has experienced firsthand the dehumanizing system of institutional racism that exists within Iranian society. Through an ingenious system, the organization monitors and reports on those who have been detained by the government (and sometimes tortured and killed) for protesting in favor of the right to use their native tongues in schools and in public. This summer, I will help Mrs. Zamani by keeping in touch with her various international contacts to update the website on new developments on the treatment of Azerbaijanis and Azerbaijani political prisoners in Iran. I will also assist her in her fight to expose this situation to the Canadian Parliament, U.S. Congress, the United Nations, western media and other forums in the western world. In my free time, I will be blogging about my experiences so that you all at home can see what I’m doing and know that your donations are actually being used appropriately.
Even though I’m still in D.C., Fakhteh has given me the honor to work with her directly upon my appointment as an Advocacy Fellow. So far, I have helped her write a small biography of her organization for distribution at a conference and have summarized a speech she gave to the Canadian Parliament, which was posted on the ADAPP website. I have also been in contact with ADAPP members in Azerbaijan and Turkey through Yahoo messenger and since I am a native Azerbaijani speaker, communication has been quite easy. Recently they have given me some information regarding a video that has emerged on YouTube showing former president Khatami belittling the Azerbaijani community. I was able to write a press release concerning this issue and the resulting protests the ensued in the cities of Tabriz, Urmia and Tehran (more information on this issue can be found on the ADAPP website).
Fakhteh gave me an assignment, to which I was particularly proud to do. She was invited to speak at a forum called “Voices” at the Durban Review Conference on April 23. The forum was sponsored by the UN High Commission on Human Rights and took place in Geneva, Switzerland at the UN. I’m sure some of you remember that the conference gained international attention when some of the attendees partook in a walk-out during a speech that was being given by the current Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Anyway, I had the pleasure to of writing Fakhteh’s speech. She was very pleased as it was received very well and sparked the attention of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights.
I am very excited to begin my work in Vancouver. I know that I will have a very challenging and rewarding experience working for ADAPP and I hope that my work can truly affect the conditions to which Azerbaijani political prisoners are subjected. I know that I have my work cut out for me.
- Azerbaijanis take to the streets to demand equal rights.
Posted By Farzin Farzad
Posted May 27th, 2009