Honourable members of Swedish Parliament

Ladies and gentlemen

First of all I want to express my gratitude to Swedish Moderate Party for providing me the opportunity to speak on behalf of Azerbaijanis, one of the largest ethnic populations in Iran.


Ladies and gentlemen


One hundred years ago, the Iranian people marked the history by the first Constitutional Revolution in the Middle East and all over the Islamic world. It was a revolution desired to bring the country to a new democratic world of civilisation, to establish the rule of law, to promote the prosperity of the country and create a state accountable to its people.

At the turn of the 19th century, Azerbaijan was not only at the centre of intellectual movement, but at the heart of the democratic movement as well.

The rising tide of the popular dissatisfaction and anger against a despotic dynasty, forced the poor health king of Qajar, Mozafar-Aldin Shah, to issue the Decree of Constitution and the creation of an elected parliament in August 1906.The royal power became limited and a parliamentary system was established.

 Soon after the death of the king , the crown prince in Tabriz ,took the reign and in alliance with the  Russians a new period of despotism re-established all over the country. The parliament was bombarded and many of the leaders of the constitutional movement were arrested.

The revolution had lost its momentum. Only Tabriz, as Paris in the French revolution, resisted against the assault of despotism and became the capital of the resistance. It offered to the history of the world its own Zapata in the legendary figure of Sattar Khan before the Mexican revolution. Then after, the resistance took the form of a generalised armed uprising and the king took the refuge in the Russian Embassy. Once again a new period of a fragile democratic experience was started.

 It was under the pressure exercised by the Tabriz Anjoman(Council) that in the amendment of the constitution , a degree of local autonomy and decentralisation had been recognised as a part of the   democratic rights of the provinces. However, it never becomes realised. The demand for local autonomy was the galvanising factor for the later democratic movement of Azerbaijanis.

The start of the war and British plot on the aftermath of the war put an end to these short lived aspirations of the Iranian people .Aided by British agents, Reza khan, a Cossack who later on renamed himself as Pahlvi(  reminiscent of pre-Islamic Persian language) took the power by a military coup and reigned the country by a despotic methods for 20 years. Freedom of association and expression was denied.

In 1919 the popular Democrat Party of Azerbaijan under the leadership of great Azerbaijani orator, Sheik Mohammad Khiabani claimed the constitutional rights of Azerbaijani people and declared Azerbaijan as the Land of Freedom(Azadestan).The demands of rights was followed by a bloody suppression from the part of central government in Tehran and Khiabani himself was assassinated.

A forceful Farsisation of all educational system implemented all over the country and languages of the other nationalities like Azerbaijanis, Kurds, Arabs, Baluchis, and Turkmen were banned and labelled as foreign languages.

The implementation of such a repressive policy didn’t come from the blue skies. At the early years of the demands for a constitutional government, the liberal intelligentsia was propagating the idea of one nation with a different languages and ethnicities. Gradually the jargon changed .Now; they were talking of one nation with one language, something that the independence of the country allegedly was dependent on it. The argument is still alive between many liberal intellectuals, let alone the government. Hence they provided an ideological background for the Reza Shah’s despotic policies. As today, some of the Azeri intellectuals like Kasravi , the respected historian of constitutional revolution, and Aref Gazvini  a famous poet, joined to this melancholic coir. To foster the theory of “one nation , one language “ in a multi- national country, it was not enough to identify the whole history of Iran with Persian language, more rather the liberal intelligentsia suggested some draconic measures , from banning of all ethnic languages to forceful displacement of the different  ethnic groups. A poem by Aref is a graphic example of how these intellectuals of freedom lovers who paved the way for suppressive policy of Reza Shah:


The Turkish tongue should be torn out by the roots

The legs it stands on should be cut off in this land

Sweep across the Arxes bearing the Persian language

Oh, breeze of dawn, arise ! Tell the people of Tabrize:

The pleasant land of Zoroster is no place for Genghis!*


The political objectives of the liberals were implemented by military coercion of Reza Shah.

In the Second World War period, Reza Shah by demonstrating some signs of sympathy to Nazi Germany was abdicated from the power and was sent off to exile by British forces where he died.

 The military presence of the Russians in the north and British forces in the south of the country loosened the grips of the central government to provinces, especially in Azerbaijan and Kurdistan. Discriminatory economic policy, denial of political and cultural identity of non-Persians, famine and deterioration of economic life of the people, along with the long years of dictatorship was a watershed for the upsurge of the democratic aspirations, but the revival of national identity as well.


In 1945, the Democratic Party of Azerbaijan, under the leadership of Pishevari , declared Azerbaijan as autonomous in conducting of its policy. There were elections for local parliament and councils, followed by the election of executive. However, the local government of Azerbaijan never aligned itself with the separatist tendencies and always emphasised for the principle of a unified Iran. For this reason there was no office of foreign secretary in the local government of Azerbaijan, considering it as the right of central government in Tehran. Similarly, the autonomous Republic of Kurdistan under the leadership of Gadgi Mohhamad was established in Mahabad.


The autonomous government of Azerbaijan lasted for one year and in its short life it did for the people of Azerbaijan more than the 20 years of Reza Shah’s reign, from the building of schools, parks, roads to theatres and cultural centres.. Azeri language again became language of education in schools and journals were being published in Azeri and Persian as well.


Both autonomous governments were faced a bloody suppression. Tens of thousands of peoples were killed or escaped from their homeland. Again the policy “one nation, one language” reinforced and any publication in Azeri was banned and stigmatised as a sign of separatism.

The Islamic Republic borne with the collapse of monarchy in Iran and started its life with torture, blood and death. A government came to power that “erection of scaffolds and breaking down of pens” in the words of its founder, Khomeini, became their first step in establishing the pillars of government. A huge military force was deployed against Kurdish people and Turkmen, and many were executed in Tabriz. All political parties were smashed by force, culminating to mass murder in the prisons in the tenth anniversary of its coming to power, taking the life thousands of innocents.

Demonstrating all characteristics of a totalitarian sate, Islamic Republic of Iran has followed on the footsteps of totalitarian states in Eastern Europe and Nazi Germany, relying on the use the terror as its main political instrument in keeping itself in power.

If a democratic government implies certain rights for the citizens, like:

·         right to elect government through free and fair elections

·         freedom of speech

·         the rule of law

·         human rights

·         freedom of assembly

·         freedom from discrimination

All of these premises are absent from the function of statehood in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Instead, it has established a multi-facial apartheid state, based on the discredited rigid fanatic ideology, dividing the society on the lines of Muslim and non-Muslims, Muslims and pagans, men and women, portraying women not only as inferior to men and transforming it as an element of its ideological tenets and credentials, but like a symbol of evil temptations that should be hidden within the walls of chador. Upon this perception, it has extended such a system of apartheid state to schools, parks, hospitals, buses and even taxis, where the men and women should have separate parks and hospitals or have separate places in the public transport.

Most of you as politicians, I do believe, are familiar with the barbaric methods that Islamic Republic of Iran has employed against the women from the stoning to death to execution of under age youngsters.


Many aspects of social life, even without any political or legal connotation, are being treated under criminal law, and the ambit of criminal law is being extended to cultural and political spheres. Hence a slight appearance of the hair of a woman or an expression of idea and pure cultural activity could be potentially a criminal activity; therefore in the eyes the so-called “government of god” every body may be a guilty and be subject to harsh treatment by the mullahs as the agent of the god in terrestrial life. The famous theory of “presumption of guilt” by Stalin’s attorney general , Vyshinisky is being repeated here.


A government is assumed to serve its people. However, since coming to power, Islamic Republic has transformed the ordinary life of the people into a torment. It has transformed the country into a graveyard of hopes and aspirations of the young generation, causing each year 180 thousands of them to leave their homeland. It is hard to evaluate the sinister outcome of this haemorrhage to the future of the country.


In the last 25 years of coming to power, Islamic Republic of Iran has created a Diaspora of its own people; pushing millions of Iranians to leave their country, who are now scattered all over  the world.



Isolated from the people, as the latest elections to the parliament demonstrated it with only 10% of votes, the Islamic Republic of Iran has become not only a symbol of grotesque violation of human rights, denial of the democratic rights of citizens and different national minorities that are overwhelmingly outweighs the dominant faction in power, it has become a sign of a human tragedy.


As there exist a dual state in Iran, namely a “legal state” symbolised with the president of republic and ministries and the so-called legislature and judiciary one the one hand that have no power, and a parallel state with its own separate army, judiciary, security organs of information and prisons that are not accountable to “legal state” and are not under its supervision. They are free to commit any type of atrocity, without being questioned by the state. Even the private lives of the citizens are not immune from their assault within their homes. They kidnap, they imprison, and they torture and kill without facing the legal implications of their actions. At worst they are being abrogated in the show trials as the “solders of Imam Zaman” **. Serving to Islam.


Legally speaking, the present state has been disintegrated and has lost its main defining feature, namely sovereignty, within its own borders. The official state has no right to supervise over 30% of the ports of the country, as they are in the private hands of the “leader”, which are at the same time centres of smuggling from the traffic of terrorists or drugs to sex traffic in recent times.


By losing of popular support and legitimacy, by resorting to bare use of violence within the country and promoting of terrorism, the Islamic Republic of Iran has striped out from its feet any real power base. It has become like an empire built on the sands; a fragile creature that may cause the disintegration of the country by the unpredictable events that could have wider consequences.

 With such a glimmer picture, the only option for the survival of the country and ability of all citizens to live in peace with each other will be reliance on the democracy, now cherished by all sections of the society.

Currently there are two pillars of the democratic movement in Iran that enjoys a massive popular support: The democratic movement of the women in Iran that was from the early days of the birth of Islamic government in challenge with it; over the years by acquiring a social awareness it has become one of the building blocks of the opposition against any religious or ideological government and it plays and will play an important role in any socio political change in Iran. The second one is political awareness between the different ethnic groups that they compose the majority of populations in Iran, which has a different nature and carries very different political implications.

If the first one can put any government under the pressure, the latter has a disintegrative character if not channelled through a democratic way out.

The political repression of the ethnic societies in Azerbaijan, Kurdistan Khuzestan(arabs) ,Turkmen and Baluchs , operates as centrifuge factor from the central government . The successive governments in Iran from Reza Shah to Islamic Republic have deprived them from their political and cultural life .The political representation that could be based primarily on the political environments where these peoples are living with their distinguished ethnic identity have been always denied of them; let alone that they hadn’t right to be educated in their own maternal language.  The theory of “one nation and one language”, as a gauge of independence and unity of the country, while hadn’t any political credibility, and has been always implemented by use of coercion, has failed in the test of time; now it has become a threat to its very foundation, as the democratic movements within non-Farsi ethnic groups are more emphasising on their own language as sign of identity.


 To avoid a catastrophe, I do believe, as many in the wide spectrum of the federal movement within the all ethnic groups, that establishing of federal system in a multi-national country like Iran will be the only viable device providing a democratic framework to live in peace with each other and preserving the integrity of the country.

We consider that the coexistence of several nations in one state is the best security of its freedom. The existence of such a state is as well a necessary condition of civilised life of citizens composed of different nations.

A federal system based the two levels of allocation power, namely the self-rule where different nationalities are living, and the shared rule on the federal level, and recognising all six languages being equal, will be the best gauge of our free co-existence within the boundaries of one united country.

As free choice belongs to free people, we need a real free election supervised by the United Nations as impartial international institution.

We Azerbaijanis, like all other national minorities in Iran, have capability and desire to live in harmony and peace with each other, to promote the prosperity of our country, and share the happiness of each other rather than participating in the misery of each other. I hope that wisdom will overcome to prejudices and free will of free people will opt a federal device that has provided a better mechanism of civilised life of co-existence of citizens.




Thank you.

Hedayat Soltanzadeh