Issue 4

2 nd July 2001

Azerbaijani TURKS COMMUNITY IN britain




Presentation Given at "Armenian Genocide?" Debate

25 April 2001

London School of Economics

Presentation Given by: Sherif Alp

Dear friends, I would like to express my thoughts about the late 19th-early 20th century Turkish-Armenian relations in general and the events of the 1st World War and its aftermath in particular. In Turkey and Azerbaijan today there are millions of men and women who remember their parents’ and grandparents’ accounts of the terrible events of World War 1. Their stories are so similar to those told by the Armenians that only the names of the victims separate them. In the wartime period, Turks and other Muslims lost nearly 3 million souls; and like the Armenians they have not forgotten their losses.

Before examining the 1st World War period, I think it’s vital to emphasise that the Turks and Armenians lived peacefully and generally in an intermixed way in the Balkans, Anatolia, and in the Caucasus for nearly 1,000 years. After Mehmed II conquered Istanbul, Armenian religious leader Hovakim was brought from Bursa to Istanbul in 1461 and the Armenian Patriarchate was established with a royal decree; thus being one of the "millets" within the Ottoman Empire. Just to give an example from an Armenian source, Mihran Boyaciyan, an Armenian who was the district head of the Castellorizo island in the Aegean Sea, stated "Because justice and general security existed in the Ottoman lands, the Christian people of oppressive states took refuge in the Ottoman state from the oppression and cruelty of the Europeans, and the Ottoman state expanded with conquests thanks to the just application without any discrimination of the law which is a living example of justice."

Indeed, in the 19th century alone, 29 Armenians achieved the highest governmental rank of "Pasha". Besides, 14 Armenian deputies took part in the Ottoman Parliament after the establishment of Constitution in 1908, including the deputy foreign minister Artin Dadanian and foreign minister Gabriel Noradungian, who stayed in office until 1913. Let’s stop and think for a second: Would Hitler appoint a Jewish foreign minister to his cabinet on the brink of WW II?

So far, so good. But how did the tensions between the Muslims (Anatolian-Azerbaijani Turks, Kurds) and Armenians arise? It should be stressed that two factors were influential: As a first, the growing interests and provocations of imperial powers; most notably Russia, Great Britain and France. Secondly, the emergence of Armenian nationalism. As Dr.Razmik Panossian, an Armenian academician from LSE states, "Armenian nationalism did not emerge as a reaction to Turkish nationalism; because it emerged 50 years earlier than Turkish nationalism. Until one point, the Ottoman Empire was not seen as a problem, but with the emergence of Armenian nationalism, it was perceived as such." Similarly, during a recent lecture at the LSE, Dr.Gerard Libaridian said that the Azerbaijani nationalism emerged in early 20th century as a response to Armenian nationalism and forced Russification.

With the budding of nationalistic feelings among the Armenian community in the Ottoman Empire, several societies were formed with the purpose of establishing an Armenian state. The Hunchak Revolutionary Party was established on Marxist principles in Geneva in 1887. The party declared that its goal was to "free the Turkish Armenia" and Part IV of its political program makes clear the methods used for this purpose:

"The only way of achieving our immediate goal is to start a revolution, that is, using force to upset all order in the Turkish Armenia, forcing the people to start a war against the Turkish government with a general revolution.

The means of these activities are:

1. Propaganda: using the press, publications and oral means to spread the revolutionary ideas of Hunchak in the millet, and especially among the workers, establishing a revolutionary organization among them, and organising revolutionary regiments.

2. Terror: using terror as punishment against Turkish administrators, secret agents, informers, and traitors. Terror must be a means and a weapon for protecting the revolutionary organisation.

3. Raider regiments organisation: military units kept ready to fight against government forces. These regiments can serve as vanguard regiments during general revolutions.

4. General revolutionary organisation: comprises several regular groups all of which are attached to each other to form a unity and a harmonious whole, all of which use the same tactics to advance in the same general and common direction, and all of which are administrated and directed by a central committee.

5. Revolutionary regiments organisation.

6. The declaration of war by any state against Turkey should be considered as the most opportune time for the general revolution, for the immediate goal."

On the other hand, the Dashnaksutiun Revolutionary Party came into being in Tbilisi in 1890. They based on national-socialist principles and opened branches in various Ottoman cities. It was not by chance that these revolutionary committees adopted terror as their method of struggle against the Ottomans. The most important point is that the area they sought to "free" was not one like Bulgaria or Greece, a country defined and delimited by a relatively unified mass. In areas they called "Armenia", the Armenians were living as small islands among Muslims and they constituted only 17% of the general population. Even if all Armenians world-wide were to be brought to this area, they would not be able to constitute a majority in Eastern Anatolia. Thus, starting with this suspicion, the Armenian revolutionary committees thought that terror was necessary for making the Muslim inhabitants flee. There are many documents still in the British Foreign Office Records (424/122, 132), which state the preparations of Armenian guerrilla groups for a general uprising as early as 1876. Louise Nalbandian, a renowned Armenian historian summarises the Hunchak activities as follows: "Provocation and terror was necessary in order to mobilise the sentiments of the Armenians. The people would be provocated against the enemy and the enemy’s response would be a justification for the activities of the Committee."

So, the stage was set and the uprising began to flourish all over the empire: In Erzurum and Istanbul in 1890, Kayseri, Yozgat, Corum, Merzifon events, Sasun, Van, Zeytun rebellions during 1890s, the assassination attempt to Sultan Abdulhamid in 1905, the Adana events in 1909; which resulted in atrocities for both sides. Not coincidentally, the Armenian uprisings began in Anatolia as soon as the Russians realized that the Ottoman Empire would go to war. Before Russia declared war on November 2nd 1914, Ottoman citizen Armenians began to arm themselves, and one band of more than a thousand was organised by an Armenian deputy to the Ottoman Parliament, Garo Pastirmaciyan. Armenian guerrillas from Mus, Van, Surmeli (Igdir) attacked Ottoman military units in Mus, Sitak, Susehri, Zeytun, Aleppo, Dortyol and many other areas.

In March 1915, Russian forces began to move towards Van. On 11 April 1915, the Armenians of Van began a general revolt, massacring all the Turks in the vicinity. Their success was rewarded with a telegram from Tsar Nicholas II, "thanking them for their services to Russia". The Armenian newspaper Gochnak, published in the United States, reported on the 24th of May 1915, that "only 1,500 Turks remain in Van", the rest having been slaughtered. On the other hand, on November 12, 1914, Bogos Nubar Pasha, a representative of the Ottoman Armenians, suggested collaboration to the British authorities in Cairo with the following words: "Armenians in Cilicia are ready to enlist as volunteers to support a landing in Iskenderun (Alexandretta) area. Armenians in mountainous areas can also provide valuable support; they will rebel against Turks if they are supplied with arms and ammunition." For all the sake of understanding the chronology of the massacres/counter-massacres, I must stress that all these activities took place well before the orders of the relocation of Armenians were given.

The Ottoman response to the Armenian revolts was approximately the same as that taken by other 20th century governments faced with civil war; isolating the guerrillas from local support by removing the local supporters. They therefore decided on a radical action: forced migration of the Armenian population in actual or potential war zones. The key points of this relocation decision were:

"When those of Armenian residents in the aforementioned towns and villages who have to be moved are transferred to their places of settlement and are on the road, their comfort must be assured and their lives and property protected; after their arrival their food should be paid for out of Refugees’ Appropriations until they are definitively settled in their new homes. Property and land should be distributed to them in accordance with their previous financial situation as well as current needs; and for those among them needing further help, the government should build houses, provide cultivators and artisans with seed, tools, and equipment."

"This order is entirely intended against the extension of the Armenian Revolutionary Committees; therefore do not execute it in such a manner that might cause the mutual massacre of Muslims and Armenians."

(Do you believe that anything comparable has been issued by Yugoslav Milosevic to his troops in Kosovo?)

Moreover; blinds, deaf, sick people, Catholic and Protestant Armenians, soldiers, and their families, officers, traders, some workers, orphans and widows were exempted from the forced migration.

However, lack of proper security along with cold and diseases opened the way for subsequent events: Some ottoman officials were venal and stole from those in their charge. Some officials, particularly those who were from Caucasian Muslim groups that had themselves recently suffered the same deprivations, undoubtedly saw the Armenian situation as a chance to even old scores. Local citizens amassed large sums dealing in the property, and misery, of Armenian migrants. These included Muslims and Greek Christians, of whom later bought up Armenian lands and property in Black Sea provinces. The greatest threat and cause to mortality to Armenians came from the nomadic tribes who raided Armenian convoys. The few gendarmes detailed to the convoys, for example, could not protect them from armed attacks by Kurds. While the tribes did not usually engage in mass slaughter of Armenian migrants, they did kill large numbers of them and abducted their women. They probably caused the greatest mortality by stealing what the Armenians needed to subsist. Despite the regulations, little food was provided to the migrants, who were expected to feed themselves. But the tribes took their sustenance, and starvation was the result. Some Ottoman officials themselves took part in the robbery of Armenians, sometimes even the killing of Armenians. The Ottoman government recognised this and tried 1397 persons for crimes against Armenians. Some were executed for their crimes.

In sum, the mass wartime relocations of Armenians from the Eastern front were no pretext for genocide. Genocide is a word bristling with passion and moral depravity. It typically evokes images of Jews dying like cattle in Nazi gas chambers. It is customarily confined in international covenants to the mass killings of repression of a racial, religious, or ethnic group with the intent of partial or total extermination. Therefore, to accuse Turks of Armenian genocide is grave business, and should be appraised with utmost care for historical accuracy. None of this is to deny that hundred thousands of Ottoman Armenians perished during World War I and its aftermath. But Muslims died in even greater numbers (approximately 3 million in Eastern Anatolia). Massacres and counter-massacres did take place in Eastern Anatolia and in the Caucasus between 1915-1922. The battlefronts and the borders continually changed during these years, due to the accordion-like wars; where innocent people, whether Christians or Muslims, exterminated.

It should not be forgotten that the leaders of the Committee of Union and Progress were shot dead by Armenian assassins (Said Halim Pasha, Bahattin Sakir, Talat Pasha, Cemal Pasha, probably Enver Pasha) following the years of WWI. There were also two assassination attempts to the founder of the present day Turkish republic, Kemal Ataturk. Members of ASALA (Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia) and various other groups assassinated 36 Turkish diplomats and their relatives plus many other third-country citizens in 1970s and 1980s and tried to justify their acts by the massacres perpetrated against Armenians decades ago.

Today, a search is on for proof that the Ottoman government ordered genocide for the Armenians. What has appeared so far would be unacceptable in any other historical inquiry such as a few telegrams in poorly forged handwriting produced by an Armenian and entered in no telegraph records; reports from trials in which no objective evidence was produced and the accused were not allowed to defend themselves. Evidence that indicates the Ottomans intended no genocide is, like the deaths of the Turks, ignored. Yet the accusations will continue as long as nationalist sentiment guides the studies. It would be better, I believe, to approach the Armenian-Turkish conflict as a study of the sufferings of the Armenians and the Turks. The nationalist feelings of today, whether Armenian or Turkish, have no place in the study. We should examine the fate of the millions who died in Russia’s expansion efforts and consider the effects of revolutionary movements that pursued an ideal over the bodies of their own people and of others. We should study what occurs when a government is too weak t defend its people. The important questions are human questions, not national questions. On April 24 of every year, Armenians gather to remember their dead. They grieve for lost family and the lost homes of their grandfathers, as is proper. It should be remembered that Turks, too, grieve for their dead.

Where is Shams's Tomb?

Gardeshgari (Monthly in Persian)
(By: Muhammad Amin Riyahi)
Summary: The researcher, Dr. Muhammad Amin Riyahi, has identified Shams's tomb in Khoy: in various sources such as Fassihi's Modjmal it has been mentioned that Shams died in Khoy around the year 1273. Today, all that remains from Shams's tomb is a minaret whose rows of bricks are adorned by gazelle horns that have been inserted in between them, according to an old Iranian tradition.

Text: Where is the resting place of Shams-e Tebrizi, the great thinker and mystic who set the being of Mevlevi ablaze? Mevlevi's mausoleum in Qunieh (Konya) is magnificent, it brings great honour to our neighbouring country; every year hundreds of thousands of pilgrims visit it, and inside it, they enjoy the beautiful sound of reed-pipe. Each year in November, during Mevlana's Week, large groups of foreign tourists are present in the programs of Somaa' (dervish dance).

But what do we know about the resting place of Shams-e Tabriz, Mevlevi's teacher, whom many disciples of Mevlana consider to be Mevlana's Khezr (or Khidr, the prophet Elias), and whom is considered by the great expert on Mevlana, Nicholson, bear the same relationship to Mevlana as that of Plato to Aristotle?

Shams-ul-din Muhammad-ibn-Ali-ibn-Malekdaad-e Tebrizi was one of the freemen, a mystic. The late Djalal-e Homayi says that his ancestry went back to Kia Bozorg-omid-e Isma'eeli (who died in 1136/532 after Hejira lunar calendar) [1].He loved travel and spent much of his life travelling, never staying in one place. According to Aflaaki "the group of mystic travellers called him a 'bird' because of the ground he had covered" [2].

Shams-e Tebriz arrived in Koniye in 1243 (642 a.h. lunar calendar), met Mevlana, and his charisma and strong personality totally changed Mevlana. Before meeting Shams, Mevlana was one of the clergy, given to the arguments and the business of the religious schools: "At the time, he taught religion and was an instructor in four famous schools, and the greatest of clergy walked along in apprenticeship." [3]

On meeting Shams, Mevlana changed his clothing, set aside teaching and sermon, and became a mystic given to rapture, somaa' (mystic dancing), and poetry. For the people of Koniye, especially Movlana's disciples, the changes in Mevlana and his relationship with Shams were unbearable. The friends and the public became enraged, the followers became riotous, and everyone became Shams's enemy. After 16 months, Shams left Koniye in 1244 (643 a.h. lunar calendar), with no notice. The pain and anguish of Mevlevi at that time knew no bounds.

Finally, a letter arrived from Shams indicating that he was in Shaam. Mevlevi, sent his son, Sultan Valad, along with twenty others, to bring him back. Shams came back to Koniye in 1245 (644 a.h. lunar calendar) in great splendour. The enemies repented, apologised, and set up feasts. The whole Koniye was given to happiness, rapture, and mystic dancing. But these festivities did not last long, and again, enmity and fanaticism reared its head bringing about trouble for Shams. Despite his great affection for Movlana's companionship, Shams decided to leave Koniye. He kept saying to Mevlana: "I travelled here and so much distress I suffered that if Koniye were made replete with gold, were it not for your friendship, I would not have paid a dime to return here ..., travelling again is very hard on me, but if I go this time , don't do what you did last time! ..." [4]. Also, several times, he had told Sultan Valad, Mevlevi's son, who was his closest disciple and confidant, that: "This time I will go somewhere that no one can find me." [5]

In 1246 (645 a.h. lunar calendar), Shams left Koniye without anyone knowing. Mevlevi, unsettled and restless, sought news from Shams. Many times, some people told him that they had seen Shams in Sham, and he would give them money and based on these reports he travelled twice to Shaam, but he could not find him. Aflaaki writes: "Forty days after Shams disappeared, Mevlana assigned Hessameddin Chalabi to head his circle, and set out to Damascus in search of Shams." [6]


[1] Valad-naameh, with corrections and an introduction by Djalal Homaayi, 1937, footnote to page 52 in the introduction.
[2] Aflaaki's Manaagheb-al-Aarefin, ed. Tahsin Yaaziji, Ankara, 1959, vol.2, page 615.
[3] Ibid. page 618.
[4] "Maghaalaat-e Shams-e Tebrizi", corrected and annotated by Muhammad Ali Movahhed, 1990, vol. 2, page 267.

[5] Valad-naameh, op.cit., page 52.

[6] "Manaagheb-al-Arefin", op.cit., vol. 2, page 698.







30.05.01--BAKU--Dadash Sadikhov was found severely beaten in Baku’s Surakhani District. The victim died five days later in hospital as a result of serious injuries caused to his internal organs. The crime was committed by Vladimir Stepanian and Artur Markarov ,two Armenians long living in Surkhani district of Baku.



30.05.01--NAKHCHIVAN--The akhund of the Fatmeyi Zehra Mosque built by Iranian regime in Nakhchivan, Mohammed Ismaili was deported from Azerbaijan for conducting anti-Azeri propaganda in Azerbaijan under the pretence of religious activities. According to information available, the Iranian mullah was calling on Nakhchivanis to act against the state of Azerbaijan. A group of women believers happened to realize what Ismaili was doing in Nakhchivan and just beat him one day driving him away from the mosque.


Turkey has expressed concern over a new surface-to-surface guided missile test by its eastern neighbor, Iran.

"The test of a Fateh missile by Iran on May 31 has caused concern in our country," Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Huseyin Dirioz said in a written statement late Friday.

"We have repeatedly conveyed to Iran our concerns over the issue and we are closely following the developments," he added.

Turkey, mainly Muslim but strictly secular, has often accused Tehran of supporting radical Islamist groups in Turkey as part of what Turkish officials describe as Iran's bid to export the Islamic revolution.



BAKU--Russian channels which face no obstacles in broadcasting their programs over the whole territory of Azerbaijan are continuing their anti-Azerbaijan propaganda. The situation has come to such an edge that the leader of Karabakh separatists Arkady Gukasian is presented as the «president» of non-existing «Nagorno Karabakh Republic.» Gukasian’s speech on Russia’s ORT channel recently caused the indignation of Azeri MPs as well. MP Ali Ahmedov said it’s important to send a note to the Russian Embassy in Azerbaijan and even Russia’s State Duma, if necessary. Meanwhile, MP Imamverdi Ismayilov demanded to put end to broadcasting Russian channels in Azerbaijan. Speaker Murtuz Alasgarov summed up MPs’ speeches.



14.06.01--YEREVAN, Armenia--Iran’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Armenia, Mohammed Farhad Koleini was appointed as contact person at the Karabakh problem-related negotiations. Iranian diplomat will take part in the negotiaions as an observer. He has recently made a comment that " Armenia’s enemy is Iran’s enemy" and caused outrage in Southern Azerbaijan.




ANDF Extension of the partnership between Georgia and Turkey in the military field alarmed Yerevan. Turkey hasassisted the Georgian armed forces several times until now. And recently Turkish officers have joined to the military trainings held in Potty, Georgia.

In his press conference held in Yerevan the Armenian foreign minister Vardan Oskanian stated that military co-operation between Ankara and Tbilisi worries Yerevan. He also said that the official Tbilisi stated that this partnership was not directed to Yerevan: "Georgian officials assures us that they will not put any step against the interests of Armenia. We would like to believe them".



BAKU--Two more Azeris got captured by Armenia’s occupant forces recently. They are Arif Mahmud oglu Eyvazov, a soldier, and Mirzali Akbar oglu Jafarov, a resident of the Fuzuli region. The Commission of Missing, Hostages and POWs announced that the two Azeris have already been registered as a POW and hostage in Armenia and are currently held in the isolation ward of the Ministry for National Security. The Azeri Commission says appropriate measures are being done for release of the two. We would remind you that the Geneva Convention prohibits taking hostages among civil population.



The World Azerbaijanis' Congress (WAC) has appealed to the President of Azerbaijan Republic Heydar Aliyev . The appeal reads that despite several difficulties, WAC is on the eve of its 5th congress. WAC has sent an invitation for President Aliyev to participate in the session. The appeal reads that WAC 5th session will take several steps for establishment of the Azerbaijani Diaspora and lobby. The appeal positively evaluates President Aliyev's ordinance to hold the 1st session of the World Azerbaijanis in Baki. The appeal was sent to H.Aliyev by Doctor Javad Derakhti, member of the WAC Executive Committee.



Azeri deputy foreign minister Mahmd Mammed-Guliyev reminds Azerbaijan and EU has launched cooperation since 1996. "Azerbaijan's integration to the European Union (EU) is an important item. We attach great importance to this question. Azerbaijan should become full member of EU', Azeri deputy foreign minister Mahmud Mammed-Guliyev told Turan news agency. The diplomat reminded Azerbaijan signed an agreement on cooperation in 1996, which came into efficiency in 1999. As to bringing Azerbaijan's legislature up to EU's standards, a relevant center must be established in this respect. Touching upon liberalization of trade EU attaches great importance to entrance Azerbaijan to World Trade Organization. "Azerbaijan has an observer status in his organization. I hope we will start talks with the WTO this September-October", he stressed.

New Ambassador to London

Mahmud Mammad-Guliyev Azerbaijan's Deputy Foreign Minister and Ambassador to Great Britain, Ireland, Norway and Sweden was recalled to Baku under the decree President Aliyev signed on May 25 . According to official version, the recall of the ex-ambassador is in connection with the completion of his mission (M.Mammad-Guliyev worked in that post for 8 years) There were rumors that he will be appointed to the post of prime minister . In one of his latest interview with local parpers he regarded the information on his appointment to the post of premier groundless.

According to unofficial information, the recall of the Ambassador is connected with his future appointment to a higher post. To date, M.Mammad-Guliyev has been considered one of the most serious figures in the government. The inspections at Azerbaijan's embassies in foreign countries were carried out under M.Mammad-Guliyev control.
Besides his official posts, M.Mammad-Guliyev is the honorary President of Azerbaijan's National Entrepreneurs' Confederation (ANEC). The organization includes Azerbaijan's most influential businessmen. According to the source, ANEC works out a new program for Azerbaijan's long-term development. Several economists and experts of the republic have been involved in the development program covering different spheres. According to the information, the document will become M.Mammad-Guliyev's activity platform during his new post. Besides, it is not excluded that the experts working out the document will be involved in the new government.
Alakbar Mammadov, Head of the Confederation criticizes in all of his speeches the current government's activity. After the information, the reason of the critics becomes known.

Rafael Ibrahimov, Head of the Embassy's Consulate Department was appointed to that position. .






Baku– 24 June late Azeri president Abulfez Elchibey’s birthday was named ‘Turkic Day’ by Democratic Congress of Azerbaijan. According to I.Gambar leader of Democratic Congress, Musavat , APFP and the United Azerbaijan Association have planed special events to mark the day.

Anayrdum-Co-incidently 24 June 2001 is 81st anniversary of creation of Southern Azerbaijani independent state under the leadership of Sheikh Memmed Xiyabani that lasted for a year.



One more PACE deputy from Great Britain, signed the document on recognition of the genocide against Azeris committed by Armenians, said Samad Seyidov, Chairman of Milli Majlis Commission on International and Interparliamentary Relationships.
It must be reminded that some 29 deputies from 9 countries (Albania, Bulgaria, Great Britain, Latvia, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Norway, Poland and Turkey) have signed the document, which was submitted to PACE April 25-27. Some 10 deputies from 4 countries should sign document in order to enforce it as a PACE approved bill.


Source:Turan News Agency

01.06.01--BAKU--The Minister of Education of Azerbaijan, Misir Mardanov told reporters that a department will be created in the Ministry of Education to deal with the Azeris living abroad. This will be done in accordance with the presidential decree «On Working With Diaspora.» According to Mr Mardanov, the ministry is currently rendering educational assistance to Azeris living in Georgia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and some regions of Russia, including Dagestan. The minister noted that there are 160 secondary schools in Georgia which are considered Azeri-language. The Ministry of Education is doing its best to supply those schools with Azeri books. «We’ll discuss with the Georgian Ministry of Education the issues on conclusion of an agreement in the field of education,» said Mr Mardanov. Analogous co-operation is impossible with Azeris living in Iran, since there are no official relations between the two nations’ education ministries. «But Azeris from South Azerbaijan arrive in Baku to receive education and they are rendered appropriate assistance,» the Azeri minister noted.

AZERIS DEPORTED FROM ARMENIA ARE FIGHTING BACK BAKU--First session of newly-created International Committee of Western Azerbaijan is held in Baku’s Press Club on June 1. Shadman Huseynov member of the political council of the National Independence Party was the founder of the committee. The Committee represents Azeris deported from Armenia and comprises representatives of various regions of Azerbaijan, as well as political parties . The committee is holding Armenian state responsible for the financial and moral damages inflicted on the deported Azeris and demanding compensation, right to return, restoration of their historical monuments. «The main objective is to fight for creation of an Azeri autonomous region within Armenia. We will be raising the question of deported Azeris in a number of international organisations,»said Mr Huseynov . He also reminded that three more organisations were engaged in protection of the rights of Azeris deported from Armenia - the Committee for Refugees, Agri Dag Community and Iravan Society. Mr Huseynov expressed readiness to cooperate with all these structures irrespective of their political orientation.



Iranian Officials have announced the results of presidential Election of 8th June 2001. These results indicate that nearly half of the eligible voters in Azeri Provinces refrained from taking part in the so-called election. Although general turnout was declared 76 percent, Azerbaijani Provinces with 52 percent were at the bottom of the list. All Azeri opposition in exile urged people to boycott the election and despite strict control over mass media by Iranian Islamic government Azeri rights activists managed to get their message across to intelligentsia and some urban section of the society. If we take into account the fact that Iranian regime has always been massaging these figures one can confidently say that the vast majority of Southern Azeris have shown their dissatisfaction with the present Iranian system and boycotted the election. This did not come to Western observers of the election as a surprise and they were expecting growing ethnic problem in Iranian Islamic unitary system.

Azerbaijanis in Iran and the Human Rights

We would like to call yours and the world's attention to the tragic fate of approximately 25-30 million Azerbaijanis, almost half of the entire population in Iran, living under a gross violation of their human/cultural rights. In a time when humankind in the new millennium stretches the scientific borders every day, there are still minorities like Azerbaijanis who are denied of their primitive cultural rights such as native language. The Azerbaijani-Turkic language, Azeri, spoken by the inhabitants of of Southern Azerbaijan (NW Iran) and millions of Iranians of Turkic origin is substantially the same as the official language of the Republic of Azerbaijan which was declared as independent state after the collapse of Soviet Union in 1991. Despite the fact that this language is taught by so many, unfortunately, in Iran, it is still not allowed to use Azeri at any educational centres including universities and schools. At the same time, in order to create a good international image, some other cultural and/or religious minorities are allowed to have their own special schools and/or prayer houses. As we believe on a peaceful solution for every political/non political problem, we ask your attention and awareness to help to prevent another potential conflict in future. We hope for your support for the case of 30 million Azerbaijanis of Iran by shedding light on this subject. We ask for your sympathy for our concerns and for our legitimate requests.

Azerbaijani Federation in Sweden, Gothenburg

This letter was submitted to Gothenburg summit of EU leaders.

Azeri paper questions motives behind Iran's wish to mediate in Karabakh

The Azerbaijani paper Zerkalo says that Iran's current campaign to mediate in the conflict over Nagornyy Karabakh is aimed at scoring political points in the eyes of pro-Iranian forces in Azerbaijan before a change of power in Baku. The paper quoted the former Iranian ambassador to Azerbaijan, Alirza Bigdeli, as saying that the latest OSCE Minsk Group proposals on resolving the Karabakh conflict were in fact aimed at partitioning Azerbaijan. Following is the text of R. Mirqadirov, M. Yasaroglu report by Azerbaijani newspaper Zerkalo on 13 June entitled "Iran accuses Azerbaijan":

Baku ignores Tehran's desire to become a mediator in the Karabakh settlement

The former Iranian ambassador to Azerbaijan and current head of the Iranian Foreign Ministry's department for ties with CIS countries, Alirza Bigdeli, has said that Tehran is ready to mediate in the settlement of the Karabakh problem. At the same time he accused official Baku of ignoring Iran's numerous proposals to this effect: "They demand concrete proposals for the settlement of the conflict. But has the OSCE Minsk Group, which is the mediator and supposedly has some concrete proposals, achieved anything?" Bigdeli said in an exclusive interview with Lider TV company.

Bigdeli says that Iran is a guarantor of peace and stability in the Caucasus. "Iran has a 796-kilometre long border with the region's states. Iran borders on four points of the parties involved in this conflict: Azerbaijan, Armenia, Naxcivan and following the occupation - Karabakh. Which country has such an advantage? Why can a state from the other end of the world take part in the talks on the settlement of this conflict, but we cannot?"

Bigdeli believes that the OSCE cochairmen are not interested in the settlement of the Karabakh conflict. At the same time, there is no need to seek a mechanism allowing Iran to take part in the talks. Bigdeli believes that it will suffice for Azerbaijan and Iran to hold bilateral talks on this issue: "You know, Armenia is trying to come to an agreement with Iran. We are ready to support Azerbaijan's position. But this depends on Azerbaijan itself".

Bigdeli recalled that it was through Tehran's mediation in 1992 that an agreement on a cease-fire had been reached. Besides, for the first and last time in the history of the conflict the presidents of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Iran signed a document which announced the territorial integrity of the conflicting states.

Bigdeli says that now Iran is not appealing to official Baku and political parties, who are well aware of Tehran's desire to become involved in the talks, but is appealing directly to the Azerbaijani people: "I have already said that the implementation of the new OSCE proposals will lead to Azerbaijan's partition. The question now is not how to settle the problem. The OSCE's proposals are about how to amputate the territory of one of the conflicting parties and hand it over to the other party. This is Iran's official position on the new OSCE proposals."

Bigdeli again rejected Azerbaijani statements about Tehran's support for Armenia. He described this as political "games". Bigdeli said that the Azerbaijani people know very well what forces are behind this: "They demand support from us. If we do not support them, then Azerbaijan has the right to denounce Iran as pro-Armenian."

Bigdeli is not so naive not to realise that after such statements official Baku will not agree to Iran's mediation in the settlement of the Karabakh conflict. By appealing directly to the Azerbaijani people, Bigdeli in fact admits that at the current stage official Tehran is not pursuing this aim. What is happening then?

Bigdeli's statement could be assessed as an attempt to convince public opinion in our country that unlike the OSCE and other international organisations subordinated to the USA, Iran is ready and able to solve the Nagornyy Karabakh problem taking into account Azerbaijan's interests. But the Azerbaijani authorities and the pro-Western opposition parties reject Iran's mediation. This is the gist of Bigdeli's statement.

The question is: why does Tehran need all this? We should recall that Azerbaijani Deputy National Security Minister Tofiq Babayev recently accused Tehran of planning to change the state regime in our country. It is no secret that pro-Iranian political groups exist in Azerbaijan. Moreover, Mahir Cavadov [former prosecutor of Xatai District accused coup attempt in March 1995] had found refuge in Iran itself. Cavadov has repeatedly announced his readiness to take part in the liberation of the Azerbaijani lands occupied by the Armenians together with his supporters. Simultaneously, Cavadov hinted that the Iranian authorities would support this action.

There has recently been a lot of talk in Azerbaijan itself and abroad about a possible change of power. That is why such statements by Tehran could be seen as an attempt to raise the price of "shares" in the consciousness of the pro-Iranian political forces before a possible change of power in Azerbaijan.

But Bigdeli made a serious mistake by recalling the talks between [the then Azerbaijani acting president] Yaqub Mammadov and [former Armenian President] Levon Ter-Petrosyan in May 1992, through the Iranian president's mediation. One day after the signing of the cease-fire agreement Armenian armed forces launched an offensive and occupied first Susa and then Lacin...[ellipsis as given]



TEBRIZ, June 3 (Reuters) - Renowned for their business sense and seriousness, Iran's ethnic Azeris are sick of being the butt of Iranian jokes and want more recognition for their language and culture.

The Azeri people of Tabriz, an ancient trading hub of labyrinthine bazaars, say they are pinning their hopes for greater rights on President Mohammad Khatami in Friday's presidential election.

Surrounded by ethnic strife and separatism in neighbouring Turkey, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Caucasus, Iran has remained almost immune to unrest among its patchwork of Azeri, Kurdish, Baluchi, Turkmen and Arab minorities.

But as the openness inspired by the reformist Khatami sweeps society, ethnic minorities that make up about half the 63 million population are beginning to speak up.

"We should all accept that Iran belongs to all Iranians not to a particular group," a group of Azeri legislators, academics and intellectuals wrote to Khatami recently, quoting one of his key campaign slogans back at him. "The Azerbaijanis fought the enemy and defended the country in war-time.

"Now that peace and security prevail in the country, how is it possible that not only their civic rights are forgotten but also their identity, culture and language are mocked and the Persians call themselves the masters of the centuries?"

The petitioners demanded greater language rights in education and broadcasting. Persian is Iran's only official language although millions speak the Turkic Azeri tongue.


Numbering more than 20 million, Azeri Turks are Iran's biggest minority mostly living in three north-western provinces squeezed between Turkey, Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Some 1.3 million live in Tabriz, capital of the country under the Mongols who ruled the country in the 13th and early 14th century. Surrounded by mountains in Iran's richest agricultural region, it is blessed by more rain and cooler winds than the arid, dusty centre and east of the country.

But although Tabriz has local radio and television in Azeri, schools all teach in Persian and all official business is conducted in the official language.

Many Azeris live in Tehran and other big cities. Such is their grip on trade, the bazaars and many top state jobs, that some dispute they are a minority at all.

"Azeris in Iran are not a minority but a majority in the population and in the hierarchy of the Islamic Republic," Abbas Maleki, a former deputy foreign minister, told Reuters. He is of Azeri origin but does not speak the language.

In a part of the world plagued by separatism, Iran is sensitive about its minorities.

Kurds, Arabs, Baluchis, Turkmen and Azeris all live on the edges of the Islamic Republic and have close blood and language ties with ethnic brethren in neighbouring states.

Nowhere is the issue more acute than among the Azeris. Since the Republic of Azerbaijan gained independence as the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991, ties between Tehran and Baku have been prickly.

Nationalists north of the Araxes River which divides the two states dream of a greater Azerbaijan uniting Azeris both sides of the border to drive out Armenian forces occupying Nagorno- Karabakh and large swathes of their country.

Azerbaijani President Haydar Aliyev has summoned a world congress of Azeris in Baku later this year, a move many in Tehran eye with suspicion.

Iran seeks to unite its own ethnic groups in Islam. "Let me express one sentence to you " Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said in a speech last year. "The Turk and the non-Turk peoples of Iran are all brothers, Muslims and devoted to the Islamic system in Iran."

"Azerbaijan definitely has different tastes and perspectives on reform and political views," Tabriz MP Akbar Alami told Reuters. "But the majority of the people support the reform movement, the same as in other cities."

While concerns differ little from those elsewhere - more jobs and freedom are the top issue - Tebrizis would also like to see Khatami promote education and broadcasting in Azeri Turkish after his almost certain re-election.

"It is very important our history, folklore, culture and language are maintained and revived," said Davoud Kahnamouei, a local activist in Khatami's campaign.

"There is a view that the minorities are promoting their language and culture to achieve political interests," said Alami. But separatism is not the issue, promoting minority cultures would strengthen Iran, he said.

"If the rights of the minorities are not considered or respected, it could hurt national unity."


London– 1 July 2001- Hundreds of Azerbaijanis residing in UK celebrated Babak’s birthday in Trent Park, North London. By attending this ceremony Azerbaijanis of London once again stressed their solidarity with hundreds of thousands of Azererbaijanis gathered in Babek Castle in Keleyber city of Southern Azerbaiijan. Barbecue party started around lunch time and people in group of 5 or 6 were discussing the latest news of their country of origin. Crowd were informed of the latest development in Babak Castle in Keleyber.



The President of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev reiterated that he didn't exclude resolution of the Garabagh problem in a military way. President Aliyev delivered a speech June 25 to the ceremony devoted to the Day of Azerbaijan's Armed Forces noting that if the efforts for peaceful settlement of the Garabagh conflict didn't give positive results, "the Azerbaijani army becoming stronger from day to day is able to liberate the occupied territories and to restore the country's territorial integrity. Touching upon the talks on regulation, H.Aliyev said although the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia hadn't achieved "a compromise", OSCE co-chairs were ready to intensify their efforts. President Aliyev assured the participants of the event that during the talks, he ensured Azerbaijan's national interests and would do that in the future and wouldn't take a step contradictory to the country's interests.

Expressing his satisfaction with the Armed Forces, the President pointed out some problems in military reforms. He criticised the negative cases in military registration and enlistment offices and military units during summons to military service, violation of law and regulation by some commanders. The President demanded the Defence Ministry and the above-offices to eliminate such problems. In his turn, Defence Minister Safar Abiyev declared that Azerbaijan's Armed Forces had become a structure capable to carry out any military tasks and having agile management system.

"If the leadership of the aggressor Armenian Republic doesn't give up its offensive ideas, Azerbaijan's Armed Forces is ready to fulfil our people's will and order of our Supreme Commander-in-chief. I assure our people that every soldier, sergeant and officer is able to express his standpoint and win", Azerbaijan's Defence Minister Safar Abiyev told the ceremony. The Minister provided the participants of the event with information about the historical way Azerbaijan's Armed Forces have had. He said that the good traditions of the National Army established during the Azerbaijan People's Republic continue today: "The short history of the republican army is one of the bright pages of our national state building, a good sample of loyalty to the people and motherland".

According to the Minister, today Azerbaijan's Armed Forces have become a strong military structure governed by a unique principle of commandment from one centre. "Closer military field trainings have been held in all the types of Armed Forces, military units, headquarter and real battling conditions. The battle training of armies is at a high level. The battle training is in full compliance with state policy".