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Babek Chalabiyanli speech at the US Congress


On Tuesday, June 26, Babek  Chalabiyanli, Spokesman of Azerbaijan National Resistance Organization, spokes  at the US Congress.

The text of his speech is as follows;

Good Morning,
Ladies and gentlemen and dear Congressmen, as a spokesperson of “Azerbaijani National Resistance Organization (ANRO),” first of all I must many thanks to whom has contributed to preparing this important conference. Thank you so much, Dear Congressman Rohrabacher and Dear Congressman Ted Poe.


I am a South Azerbaijani activist and here I am talking behalf of “Azerbaijan National Resistance Organization”, that is subset of general “Azerbaijan National Movement”. For clarification, I said I am from South Azerbaijan- North West of Iran, we call our territory South Azerbaijan because in the other side of our border in the north there is “Republic of Azerbaijan” and we call it North Azerbaijan.


However, there is no accurate statics about ethnic groups in Iran, but according our estimate more than 1/3 of Iranian population is Azerbaijani beside this also there are other Turkic groups in the center like Qashqai, Khalaj and Turkmans and Afshar Turks in the north east of Iran. According Iran former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi speech in Turkey in 2012, 40% of Iranian population speak Turkic dialects.


Despite all, Turkic people in Iran are deprived of their basic rights such as education in native language, fair budget distribution etc. Turkic identity is always humiliating in public media even in state TV and newspapers. All those behaviors made our people unsatisfied and unpleased from the current Mullah’s regime. We want to treat us like a first-class citizen, but the Persian supremacy is not the proper answer. We think no one is above the others and equality is our basic right. That is why we the South Azerbaijani Turkic people have been struggling to achieve our self-determination right for several decades.


Iran consists of the diversity of ethnic elements; Turks, Arabs, Persians, Baluchi’s, Kurdish, Turkmans, and… that means Iran is a multicultural and multiethnic country.


During the last 200 years, Persian bureaucrats and Persian nationalism have gained a great influence in central government. For this reason, the Turks of South Azerbaijan have been struggling to take their fate into their own hands since, 110 years.
1905 Constitutional Revolution, 1920 Sheikh Mohammad Khiyabani Movement, 1945 National Government of (South) Azerbaijan, 1979 Muslim People’s Republican Party and the modern day (South) Azerbaijan National Movement are the main political movements of the modern history of South Azerbaijan. Even though they seem separate from each other, they are parts of an entire process, through which the South Azerbaijani Turks have tried to dominate their fate.
In this process, sometimes social democracy, sometimes socialism, sometimes religious ideology and sometimes liberalism and nationalism has become the actuator ideology. But as the main aim and common denominator, the will of self-rule have remained same.


On the ending years of the Qajar Empire, Azerbaijani Turks who were un-pleased by the corrupted regime started the Constitutional Revolution “Mashrutiyat” (1905).  The revolution was spread all over the country and the Azerbaijani Turks were the pioneer of the revolution. At that time, the Azerbaijani Turks, who were keen to self-rule, put the “Law of State and Provincial Councils” into the first constitution, by the force of arms. The “Council of Azerbaijan”, which was established as a result of this law, governed Azerbaijan for a certain period and in this way, the Turks of South Azerbaijan took control over their own destiny.


Sheikh Muhammad Khiyabani, who was a cadre of the Constitutional Revolution, continued the same path and established an autonomous administration in Tabriz, in 1918.
After the Qajar Empire was collapsed in 1925 and Pahlavi Monarchy was established, Persian nationalism became the official ideology of ultra-centralist government in Tehran. There was a crushing pressure on non-Persian communities especially on Turks and Arabs as the main historical rival. Overwhelming economic, cultural and political pressure created a great displeasure and anger in south Azerbaijan, as well as the other ethnic-national regions.


In 1945, the Azerbaijani intellectuals created a semi-independent administration by establishing the Democratic Party of Azerbaijan and “National Government of Azerbaijan,” by evaluating the conditions on the field. Immediately thereafter, the Kurdish leader Qazi Muhammad established Republic of Mahabad.


In 1979, In the early days of the Islamic Revolution, the Turks of South Azerbaijan tried to dominate their own destiny by utilizing religious ideology. The Muslim People’s Republican Party and its leaders clearly opposed Khomeini’s “Vilayet-e Faghih”, arguing that was against people’s will and demanded the Law of State and Provincial Councils be put into effect again.


The modern Azerbaijan National Movement, which escalated by 1990s, spread to a much broader base in comparison with previous movements, emphasizing national rights. Although this movement ideologically has certain differences from the previous ones, the main common denominator is same; the desire of the South Azerbaijani Turks to dominate their own destiny.
South Azerbaijani Turks, like past 110 years, are willing to dominate their fate and are keeping up its struggle. This is a historical demand of South Azerbaijani Turks, whether in any form of rearranged Iranian frame or in other state system.

Today, South Azerbaijani Turkish intellectuals, activists and organizations see their legitimate right to use all internationally accepted methods to enjoy self-determination right.
ladies and gentlemen as you see Turkic people in Iran are always playing significant role in all changes in the country and everyone believes that without Turkic people’s contribution any single change in Iran is almost impossible. Despite all, I must confess that so far we have not been achieved any desired goals, but I think now we do have enough experiences to do not do mistakes again like in past.


I need to mention according to the last few decades experience’s Azerbaijani people decided to choice their own way, because in 1979 at Muslim People’s Republican Party struggle, in 2006 in widespread Turkic people protests against regime after Iran newspaper insulting, in 2010, 2011 and 2012 at Urmia Lake demonstrations and 2016 demonstration against state TV humiliating and … all the Iranian reformist and opposition groups left us alone with the cruel regime and nobody made a solidarity with us, so followed by then you know we didn’t support Green Movement in 2009, so they couldn’t success and on the recent wide protest in Iran at the first few days all Azerbaijani organization just observed after analyzing the conditions they decided to support the protests by maintaining our intellectual independence, because we don’t want make a mistake like the past that we did.


Despite all these inconveniences and disappointments, I believe that at this critical time all democrat and liberal opposition groups must move parallel to overthrow the regime.


We need solidarity with together and I do believe our solidarity can play a significant role in the transition and regime change in Iran.


Thank you so much


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