Statement by A Group of Azeri Activists & Intellectuals Concerning the Green Movement

Translator’s Note: During the past few months, several online articles in Persian have attempted to analyze the participation, or lack thereof, by Iran’s Azeris in the Green Movement. Some have criticized the Azeri desire for autonomy as “pan-Turkist.” Others have criticized the leaders of the Green Movement for not working to safeguard the Azeris’ cultural and linguistic heritage. Some who are critical of the Azeris’ pursuit of autonomy point out that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, leading reformist opponent Mir Hossein Mousavi, and many other prominent Iranian politicians, theologians, and secular intellectuals over the past century have been Azeris. A large portion of Iran’s Azeri population of approximately 15 million, however, do not believe that their right to preserve their culture and mother tongue have been honored by Iran’s current leaders. On April 2, 2010, a gathering of 10,000 Azeris near Lake Urmia, located between the provinces of West Azerbaijan and East Azerbaijan, protested the government’s lack of attention to the drying out of the lake. The protesters also demanded the preservation of Azerbaijan’s cultural heritage. Over 100 were arrested. Earlier, on February 21, a group of Azeri activists and intellectuals chose International Mother Language Day to issue a statement that addressed the Green Movement. Below is the full statement without the names of the signatories. My glosses are interpolated in square brackets. This translation was originally published by Tehran Bureau on April 15, 2010.
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