Iran’s recurring fear: Southern Azerbaijan protesting again
    Review by EU Reporter

    REGION  25 March 2023 - 12:35

    The EU Reporter website has published an article on the role of South Azerbaijan in the anti-regime protests in Iran. Caliber.Az reprints the article.

    Major cities of so-called Southern Azerbaijan – northern regions of Iran — are seeing a massive surge in discontent and demonstrations again. Tabriz, Ardebil, Zendjan, Qazvin, Julfa became centres of the unrest. Students and teachers are taking to the streets to protest serial mass poisoning of schoolgirls by unknown perpetrators. Poisonings are happening all over Iran, and seemingly deliberately targeting girls and female students. They took place in over 200 educational facilities through the past weeks, but security forces are doing nothing, thus confirming the opinion that it’s a governmental plot to intimidate young women, who took active part in the protests. Northern Iran, populated mostly by ethnic Azerbaijani minority – “Southern Azerbaijanis” — suffers from these poisonings more than central regions, not just because it is a peripheral area, but also because it is utterly underdeveloped in terms of medical services.

    This is part of consistent oppression and discrimination against the minority. The very fact that it is not known how many Southern Azerbaijanis live in Iran, 18 or 30 million, is evidence of discrimination in itself. There is a plethora of examples: the Iranian government prohibits giving Azerbaijani names to newborn babies, the government has restricted their cultural expression by imposing limits on the use of the Azerbaijani language in the media, literature, art and education.

    Activists who advocate for the rights of the people of South Azerbaijan are being persecuted and imprisoned. For example, Alireza Farshi, a prominent activist from South Azerbaijan , was sentenced to 10 years in prison for her role in promoting the use of the Azerbaijani language on International Mother’s Language Day, and for distributing books to young people in South Azerbaijan to encourage them to learn and speak in their native language.

    The social assistance programs for the provinces where Southern Azerbaijanis live are much scarcer than in any other region. The problem of draining Lake Urmia, around which many ethnic Azerbaijanis live, is deliberately not addressed by the Iranian authorities, which leads to the decrease in agricultural produce, poverty and malnutrition.

    These are the reasons why Southern Azerbaijanis are the most active minority taking part in the recent protests against the regime.

    Though it seemed at the end of 2022 that harsh repressions put an end to the demonstrations and other actions of Southern Azerbaijanis, there is a new wave of uprising, which is much harder to stop, and which constitutes a significant threat to Tehran.

    The idea of an independent Southern Azerbaijan, which has always been menacing the Iranian regime, has made a comeback. If previously the protest movement of the Iranian Azerbaijanis suffered from a total lack of coordination, recently everything has changed . At least eight major movements with different agendas have emerged, ranging from demands to grant cultural autonomy to independence. Some of them see future Southern Azerbaijan as an Azeri clone of Iran, others wish for a westernized state, resembling Turkey and Azerbaijan. 

    All the organisations joined forces in Tabriz, the historical and cultural centre of Southern Azerbaijanis. The process was organised by the activists of the Guney AZfront Telegram channel, which started at the beginning of February to plaster leaflets with the flag of Independent Southern Azerbaijan all over the city’s major locations, government buildings and even the IRGC offices and barracks.

    The second wave of leaflets carried not just a flag, but the symbols of all the major organisations.

    Videos of posters and flyers of all sizes and quality are being shared on regional social networks and in Telegram.

    Then came the turn of a flash mob: a large number of Iranian Azerbaijanis started snapping pictures in front of well-known structures in Tabriz while using leaflets to hide their faces – not to be apprehended by the Iranian security services. Up till now none of the activists of the independence movement has been arrested, although Tabriz is flooded with police and IRGC patrols.

    The regime claims that the “separatists” are supported by Israeli and Azerbaijani intelligence. Iranian officials have pointed out that in July 2021, Israel’s ambassador to Baku, George Deek, tweeted a photo of himself reading a book called “Mysterious Tales of Tabriz”.

    “I’m learning so much about Azerbaijani history and culture in Tabriz in this great book I was recently presented. What are you guys reading these days?” he wrote.

    Also, Iranian pro-government analysts have referrred to the words of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev on November 2022 Summit of the Organisation of Turkic States. "The young generation of the Turkic world should have the opportunity to study in their mother tongue in the countries of their residence. Unfortunately, most of the 40 million Azerbaijanis living outside Azerbaijan are deprived of these opportunities. Education of our compatriots living outside Turkic states in their mother tongue should always be on the organisation's agenda. Necessary steps should be taken in this direction", Aliyev stated.

    Recent rapid development of strategic cooperation between Israel and Azerbaijan fuels Tehran’s fears. If the secession of Southern Azerbaijan does takes place, Iran will collapse. Strangely enough, the Iranian regime does not consider an option of warming up its relations with Southern Azerbaijanis.

    On March 25 in Brussels a mass demonstration of Iranian Azerbaijanis is planned in front of the Belgian parliament. “The March of Freedom and Justice”, as it is called, will mark the beginning of a campaign to gain support for an independent Southern Azerbaijan.

    The movement for independence depends on the support of the West: it is vital for its very existence. Although the subject of secession has come up before, this is the first time that local organisations have joined forces.




    Subscribe to our Telegram channel

Read also

Terrorist attacks in Russia's Dagestan kill 9, injure 25 VIDEO

24 June 2024 - 00:08

Iran prepares for extraordinary presidential polls following tragic helicopter crash

23 June 2024 - 17:46

Armenian PM announces failure of protest movement

23 June 2024 - 17:59

Ukrainian forces strike Sevastopol with ATACMS missiles - Russia

23 June 2024 - 16:55

Iran announces offshore rial project

23 June 2024 - 15:16

Iran's UN envoy highlights commitment to combating extremism & supporting Afghanistan at SC meeting

23 June 2024 - 11:55
Latest news

    Why US volcano keeping scientists up at night?

    24 June 2024 - 04:02

    Russia hits its own chopper?

    First Ka-29 downed amid Ukrainian drone attack

    24 June 2024 - 02:03

    Terrorist attacks in Russia's Dagestan kill 9, injure 25


    24 June 2024 - 00:08

    California filmed the Northrup’s massive undersea "monster" weapon

    24 June 2024 - 00:04

    America beats hydrogen with new fuel

    23 June 2024 - 22:02

    Romanian village set to become Nato's biggest airbase in Europe

    23 June 2024 - 20:03

    Armenian PM announces failure of protest movement

    23 June 2024 - 17:59

    Iran prepares for extraordinary presidential polls following tragic helicopter crash

    23 June 2024 - 17:46

    New Caledonia pro-independence leader charged after deadly riots

    23 June 2024 - 17:31

    F-16 fighter jets set to counter Russian air superiority in Kharkiv region

    23 June 2024 - 17:15

    Ukrainian forces strike Sevastopol with ATACMS missiles - Russia

    23 June 2024 - 16:55

    Tandem of puppets

    Pundit’s analysis

    23 June 2024 - 16:35

    Russia restructures & replaces Wagner group post-mutiny

    23 June 2024 - 16:20

    Azerbaijani Defense Ministry presents weekly review


    23 June 2024 - 16:02

    EU suggests bilateral mechanism to investigate Armenia-Azerbaijan ceasefire violations

    23 June 2024 - 15:46

    Armenia's truce violations amid rising tensions & strategic weapons deals with France

    Those who ignore history are bound to repeat it

    23 June 2024 - 15:31

    Iran announces offshore rial project

    23 June 2024 - 15:16

    India's Modi to skip annual SCO Summit in Kazakhstan in July

    23 June 2024 - 14:56

    Azerbaijani Air Force's Karabakh Casket strategy marked for role in Patriotic War victory


    23 June 2024 - 14:26

    Macron urges French not to vote for “extremes” during parliamentary elections

    23 June 2024 - 14:11

    Israeli defence minister heads to Washington

    Touting importance of ties with US

    23 June 2024 - 13:51

    Vietnam elevates US to its highest diplomatic status

    23 June 2024 - 13:35

    America’s failed diplomatic approach towards Beijing & its business community

    23 June 2024 - 13:16

    EU high rep compares Europe to “garden” and rest countries to “jungle”

    Are Borrell's statements important?

    23 June 2024 - 12:40

    Pakistan announces national counter-terrorism campaign

    23 June 2024 - 12:24

    Azerbaijan to hold Forum of Non-Governmental Organisations in liberated lands for first time

    23 June 2024 - 12:09

    Iran's UN envoy highlights commitment to combating extremism & supporting Afghanistan at SC meeting

    23 June 2024 - 11:55

    Ukraine pushing US to strike high-value targets inside Russia using ATACMS

    Article by Associated Press

    23 June 2024 - 11:39

    Armenia’s military build-up & western alignments risk renewed conflict

    Baku warns Yerevan

    23 June 2024 - 11:39

    Russian president awards ambassador to Azerbaijan Order of Alexander Nevsky

    23 June 2024 - 11:24

    Serbia turns blind eye to its ammunition ending up in Ukraine

    Article by Financial Times

    23 June 2024 - 11:09

    European forum of Azerbaijani engineers begins in Germany, promotes collaboration & innovation

    23 June 2024 - 10:54

    Azerbaijan organises media tours on eve of Armed Forces Day


    23 June 2024 - 10:39

    Seoul arms supplies to Ukraine depend on Russia-DPRK military cooperation - official

    23 June 2024 - 10:35

    Iran’s Supreme Leader urges presidential candidates to avoid divisive rhetoric

    23 June 2024 - 10:20

    Israeli media: Hezbollah may initiate large-scale military campaign

    23 June 2024 - 10:05

    Armenia proposes Azerbaijan to create mechanism for investigating ceasefire violations

    23 June 2024 - 09:49

    Azerbaijani Kalbajar District again under Armenian fire

    23 June 2024 - 09:34

    Steering through tangled web of conflict & peace between Azerbaijan & Armenia

    High time to do away with a vicious circle

    23 June 2024 - 09:17

    Greece to receive 164 M2A2 Bradleys

    Including 62 as free aid from US

    23 June 2024 - 08:55

All news