Ali reza H

Iranian government has been targeting the language and the religion of the Iranian Turks, who are one of the most fundamental elements of the country, continuously for approximately 100 years. The Persians who are dominant in Iran never gave up their policy against the Turks. This stance of the Persians creates a serious discomfort among the Southern Azerbaijanis. The comic strip crisis happened on May 2006 showed the power of the Iranian Turks to the Chauvinist Persian government of Iran in one sense. It is understood from the latest developments in Iran that the lesson was not learnt from those incidents, the pressure on the Southern Azerbaijani people continue and the “logophobia” that bothers the Iranian government became more chronic.

For example the Iranian government has been trying to prevent the use of elements like symbol, sign, picture that reflects being a Turk. The Iranian government removed the picture of “Dade Ghorghut” that was hung on the Music Revsen Association which belongs to the Iranian Azerbaijanis in Tabriz. The prohibition on the picture was removed after The Association declared that “Dade Ghorghut” is a folk poet who is historically important.

The policy of changing a thousand year-old Turkish names of the places into Persian fictitious ones, which began at the time of Shah Reza Pahlavi, continues in the same way today. The target of this policy is as always “the Turkish language”. The Iranian government changed the name of the “Agach” street in Tabriz into “Drakht” and “Qari” bridge into “Pirzen”. While the officials of the Iranian State claimed that they changed only the names not the meaning to increase the reactions, implementations took place in a manner not to catch the attention of the public and on a different time basis. Another example set on this issue is the city of “Sulduz”. Sulduz is a real Turkish name but the Iranian government has been using Persian “Naghadeh” instead of Sulduz that had been used for centuries. Although the people of the city of Sulduz collected many signatures many times to make an application to the Iranian government no step have been taken. Iranian Turks have been resisting this Persian imperialism by putting the real Turkish names of the cities beside the Persian ones on the papers and magazines that they publish.

The Iranian government not only deals with the names of the cities but also the Turkish signboards in the southern Azerbaijani cities such as Tabriz. The police have been removing the names of the work places that were named after the Turkish heroes like Sattar Khan, Bagher Khan, Sheikh Mohammad in the Eastern Azerbaijani State. With the decision taken on September 7 by the Ministry of Trade and Commerce, the Iranian government further banned the use of Turkish in the labels of the goods that are manufactured in the Southern Azerbaijani region where the Iranian Turks are a majority.

The point where this assimilation policy reached was the effort to present contributions and services of Sahryar to the Persian literature instead of presenting how accomplished he was in using the Turkish language with his Turkish identity as a “Southern Azerbaijani literary monument” on a TV program which was broadcasted in the commemoration of Sahryar who is a great Turkish poet.

The Iranian government, who reacts so much against the Turkish language and the Turkish, continues to target the Iranian Turks and mistreat them. Due to the anniversary of the crisis of the comic strip the Ministry of Intelligence have been continuing their pressure against the Turkish nationalist groups they started on last May, as of today, in Western Azerbaijani, Eastern Azerbaijani and Ardabil states, where the Iranians Turks are a majority. In this regard, homes of active South Azerbaijanis, who are the target of the Iranian government, are called and invited to the police station and have been warned in a harsh manner against not to take part in activities. Moreover, they have been trying to take a written statement from the Iranian Turks stating that they will not take part in similar protest activities again. Those who do not take these warnings into consideration and who do not sign a written statement are taken into custody for 20 days. Within this period Turks are physically and psychologically tortured and are forced to sign a written statement.