Babek Castle Gathering

Celebrations on the occasion of birth of Babek Huremdin, the national hero of Southern Azerbaijani people, took place in the Babek castle located in the Tebriz-Kaleybar city just like the previous years.

DO- Babek carried out his fight against Arab caliphate between 815-837 in this castle. Due to this reason, scores of Azerbaijani Turks have marched at the North west of Iran in order to reach the peak of this high mountain that is also known as the "Babek Castle."

There were an immense participation to this activity carried out between July 4-5, 2002 in Tebriz and Zencan. Meanwhile, only limited a number of people have attended the activities held in Urumiye due to pressures implemented by the security forces. But despite all the precautions and control of the security forces total of some million people have participated in the celebrations.

Local artists have sung songs, read poems and opened banners as a part of the activities. Banners such as "Respect to human rights" and "Don't forget some 30 million Southern Azerbaijani people" were among the most common banners. Later, those who participated in the festivities marched to Babek Castle.

Meanwhile, Cumhuri Islam newspaper accused these people of being separatists supported by Turkey and Azerbaijan and claimed that some local Azerbaijani newspapers are under the control of some foreign-based elements and these newspapers do not fear of censorship implemented by state institutions. The organizers of the festivities denied the allegations of the mentioned newspaper and said, "these people are not supporting separatism."

It was stated that the Azerbaijani Turks had various national demands and rights in the framework of Iranian Constitution.

Looking coldly on such organizations, the Tehran Administration took some measures in order to prevent the march. Hundreds of people, who marched to Babek Castle on July 2, were arrested by Iranian Intelligence Units. No information was given about the hundreds of Turks including scientists, musicians, reporters and politicians. The computers of those newspapers, which published stories about the march, were seized.

Iranian security forces raided into 'Urumiye's Voice' newspaper on the grounds that the paper published the photograph of SouthAzerbaijan National Awakening Movement leader Chehregani without taking a permission. Besides the arrests, Iranian Police also raided into houses and made researches. Meanwhile, two out of 10 members of the South Azerbaijan National Awakening Movement, who were arrested, are still in jail. South Azerbaijan National Awakening Movement announced that they would organize a protest in front of the UN Representation building in Tehran in case these people are not released in the following days.

Despite the reactions, the Tehran administration raised the tension by launching an excavation in the Castle where Babek lives. It is reported that the room where Babek is staying in the castle, was destroyed and his staff was taken away with cars.

It is reported that tension is dominating the South Azerbaijan state especially the cities of Ahat, Tebriz and Kaleyber. No information is available about the situation of Turks who were arrested on charges of marching the Babek Castle in order to celebrate the birthday of Babek. Families of those who were arrested are complaining that they cannot hire attorney as they do not have the information where their beloved ones are jailed.

In this light, Committee for Protecting the Rights of the People of Azerbaijan are preparing to apply to the United Nations to seek the institutions aid. UN Human Rights Commission Special Envoy to Iran Maurice Coptorn, previously, underlined that some 30 million Turkish population was under pressure with the intention of cultural assimilation and their demand for education in mother-tongue is ignored and legal investigations are carried out against those who ask for more rights and freedoms. Experts stated that it is not possible to change this situation unless oppressive state structure in Iran would be lifted. There is only one certain fact clear, national hero Babek disturbs the Iran administration.

[ Gunaskam]