As the situation in Iran continues to deteriorate, minorities continue to get repressed. These days we witnessed Ahwazi protests southwest of Iran. People were protesting mainly against lack of water, but the government responded to these protests with more repression.
Furthermore, the government’s behavior continued northwest of the country, in South Azerbaijan. More than 25 million Azerbaijanis live in Iran. Despite this fact, these people, as well as other Iranian minorities, are deprived of basic rights, such as receiving an education in their native language. It is hard to imagine, in the 21st century, that a group of people who are larger than the population of Sweden, Norway and Finland put together, are deprived of a right to receive an education in their native language. If we include other Iranian minorities, the figure will be even higher.
The #Iranian regime intensified repressions against minorities. Most of the regime is afraid of more than 25 million #Azerbaijanis living in #Iran.#freeturkactivists#SouthAzerbaijan #HumanRights #Azerbaijani— CLSA (@_CLSA_) July 7, 2018
Undoubtedly, activists in Iran and abroad raise this and other issues and struggle for the rights of their people, but the regime responds with pervasive control. The worse the regime’s situation becomes, their repression of minorities get stronger. More than 50 Azerbaijani activists have been arrested these days in Iran.
They were going to take part in the annual rally in the Babak Fort in the eastern Azerbaijan province to protest what they feel is discrimination against Iranian Azerbaijanis by the government of Persian-majority. Before the protesters reached the fort, Iranian security forces had already surrounded the area.
Sources have reported different figures on the arrested Azerbaijanis, some saying 32, 50, 63 and more were arrested. This is because people were arrested in different cities and it is those people who constitute the backbone of the Azerbaijani movement in Iran, as they carry out all coordination work.
Obviously, the authorities wanted to decapitate the movement this way. However, despite the mass arrests and intimidations, some of the activists could reach the fort and continue the protest. Certain activists who were not arrested before the protest were detained after it. For example, Yashar Hasanpour was arrested in his house in Tabriz, when he came back.
Despite the mass arrests and intimidations, some of the activists could reach the fort and continue the protest. Certain activists who were not arrested before the protest were detained after it. For example, Yashar Hasanpour was arrested in his house in Tabriz, when he came backAli Hajizade
A campaign for arrested activists has started on Twitter under the hashtag 'Free Turk Activists'.
Certain Iranian pro-government trolls are trying to use this hashtag to incite ethnic discord between Iranian minorities.
Cases of torture against activists in the Ardabil prison were also reported. Yousef Azizi Benitorof, a prominent Arab journalist and human rights activist, who is struggling for the rights of Arabs living in Iran, expressed his solidarity and support for the arrested Azerbaijani activists.
Yesterday, about 30 activists were released, however, almost all of them were tortured. So far nothing is known about the rest of the arrested protesters.
Iranian authorities actively try to shut the minorities up. The Azerbaijani population is posing a serious threat to the regime because of its large number. Also, Turkey and the Republic of Azerbaijan are situated near the borders, densely populated by Azerbaijanis. I believe that the regime’s repressions against minorities will only increase in the coming months.
Ali Hajizade is a political analyst and founder editor in chief of thegreatmiddleeast.com. He tweets @AHajizade.