Host: Let me ask you about the term separatism and separatist, and the way it is used in Farsi language. I want to know when it was first used and to what extent using separatism is democratic.
Expert: Well, the issue of separatism was brought about since the beginning of Pahlavi’s regime.
He adds, “It is a political term used by the establishment, and is used in state political literature. Unfortunately, this language is picked up some political parties in the opposition. And groups like Iran’s Constitutional Party and most of the monarchists and especially right extremists and right extremist parties in a Farsi-language society of Iran use this term. In articles 17 and 19 of Charter of Human Rights, it is stipulated that human beings must have freedom of conscience and conviction.”
“And they can have any beliefs and faiths freely and should be free to promote it as well. Let’s say someone wants to believe in the idea of independence from the country—some Azerbaijan groups really have that in mind today. Whatever his idea is, it is his idea. And any confrontation and hostility with this are against with Charter of Human Rights, and freedom of conviction.”
He tells, “Everyone is free to have his own conviction. Personally, I am a federalist. And naturally, I do not think that other beliefs such as the idea of independence are appropriate for Iran at present at all. However, I do not have the right to say that one is not entitled to such an idea. Therefore, I want to conclude that those who are against freedom of thought are just betraying their resentment, hostility, and enmity by attributing such a heavy word as separatist to somebody who has a certain idea. To me, this is not good at all for Iran and future of Iran. Let me give Quebec as an example. In Quebec, when some parties wanted to separate Quebec from Canada to form an independent country, and some wanted to stay within the framework of Canada, they held a referendum. 51% voted to stay in Canada, and 41% voted for separation from Canada.”
Then continues, “In fact, half of Quebec population were against the other half. But because in that society, freedom of thought is recognized, and cultural progress has reached a degree in which everyone is free to think for himself, there were no conflicts or hostilities in Quebec after its society decided to stay in Canada. And people’s ordinary life continued. But just think of the kind of confrontation in which one promotes resentment and hostility!”
He also says, “If [Iranian] monarchists and constitutionalists were in Quebec, and would call their opponents enemies and traitors, there would have been a civil war after the election. What I mean is that this idea can push Iran towards civil war. Meanwhile, what I can say with certainty about demanding independence among the people of Azerbaijan is that in past 80 years, this issue did not exist. But in the last 80 years, they attribute the term separatist to any Azari or Kurd who demands his rights.”
And states, “It means that they wanted to shut him up so that he cannot speak up. Separatism is an instrument of suppression and reproducing hatred among different peoples in Iran. In my opinion, using this term is, in fact, promoting enmity, and is against Articles 17 and 19 of Charter of Human Rights. And it would push Iran towards civil war.”
Host: As you know, in the meeting of Iran’s Constitutional Party, it was said that any weakening of central power with provocation and encouragement of foreigners would end up in the separation of border cities. Why do you think monarchists are against federalism?
Expert: Well, naturally, [Iran’s] Azerbaijan is in a region which is coterminous with Turkey and Azerbaijan, Kurdistan is coterminous with Iraq’s Kurdistan, and Arabs are conterminous with Arabs in Iraq. And on the other side, Baluchis are coterminous with Baluchistan. And usually, Farsi-speaking people reside in the central regions of Iran. It is 80 years—more than 80 years—that a one-ethnic government rules over the life of non-Farsi speaking people in Iran.
He adds, “Unfortunately, this Fars one-ethnic government cannot satisfy the demands of people—the demands of multi-language, multi-nationality people called Iran. This government does not originate from conscious, free will of Iranian people.”
“As a result, this part of Farsi-speaking political society in Iran—with an absolutely extremist view in the form of extremist nationalism— wants to introduce Iran is a Fars country, and say “Fars means Iran.” And naturally when different regions of Iran put forward their own demands, they will face suppression. Look at Iraq. When Saddam started suppression of Kurds, they moved towards the mountains and Iran,” he also says.
He continues, “Everything was ready for them to come and seek shelter in Kurdistan. I believe that this idea is exactly within the framework of that dark scenario in which if we want to grant them their rights, then they will be after promoting separatist ideas. And they will ask for joining neighboring countries. This is a justification for not implementing equal rights in the country.”
He tells, “I think [inaudible] are 20,000 people in this country. They have a legal parliament. I was looking at their numbers. 8,000 people have the right to vote. And out of that, almost 5,600 people take part in elections. They have a parliament, and it is legal and the government has a role in it. 20,000 people are the population, and 8,000 people have the right to vote. And now think. In Iran, there are 30 million Azerbaijani Turks.”
Then adds, “Just because they live at borders, these 30 million people do not have the right to life, and the right to enjoy cultural and national rights. [They don’t have the right to] live with equal political rights. To me, this is a justification for a racial viewpoint in Iran, in which those who live at borders should not have any rights. 70% of Iranian people live at borders. And they want to say that just because this 70% live in the borders, they should live without their rights.”
He ends, “Just because if you give them their rights, they want to join countries across the borders. This issue is not that easily justifiable. This is just promoting separation, struggle, and enmities among nations. And if it continues, it will not have a good ending. One can see its signs today. The growth of national democratic movements among the people of Azerbaijan, among Kurds, among Baluchis, and Arabs shows that this policy has failed in recent years.”
“And if this continues, something that they don’t expect at all might happen. Nations that live in Iran are not more progressive than Yugoslavia. Look at what extremist nationalism and Serbian chauvinism did to them and what happened to Yugoslavia. Therefore, I think that today is the day when there should be a revision in this regard. And think about it rationally, based on legal global standards, such Charters of Human Rights and its conventions, so that a definite framework can be created for this backward thought.”