Thursday, 10 February 2011

'Road to freedom' letter to Azerbaijanis in Iran

Sabir Rustamkhanli, MP and co-chair of the World Azerbaijani Congress, has written an impassioned letter to ethnic Azerbaijani Turks living in Iran.

The letter is entitled "The road to freedom passes through the honour of every compatriot (Letter to the South)", the World Azerbaijani Congress press service told APA.
The ethnically-Azerbaijani populated regions of northwestern Iran are often referred to in the Azerbaijan Republic as Southern Azerbaijan or the South

Rustamkhanli's letter looks back at how the Azerbaijani people were divided between two empires after the wars between the Qajar (Iranian) and Russian empires, which ended in the sign of the Gulustan and Turkmanchay treaties in the first half of the 19th century.

"This political division can never separate us; we speak the same dialect, suffer the same hardships, sing the same songs, shed the same tears," said the letter from Rustamkhanli, who is also a poet.
"In the 1820s, with the help of the great powers who wanted to divide the Turkic world, Iran's millennium of Turkic government was overthrown and handed to the Persians. Nevertheless, 35 million Turks live in the country called Iran and nearly 10 million in the Azerbaijan Republic. In the past 1,000 years it is us, the Azerbaijani Turks, who made Iran into a great state, the Seljuk, Atabay, Qaraqoyunlu, Agqoyunlu and Safavid states were ours."

Noting the violation of human rights in Iran, Sabir Rustamkhanli said in the letter that tyranny and injustice would not last until judgment day: "The fate of Iraq, Afghanistan shows that it is ridiculous, and even treacherous, to stand aside and expect happiness and democracy. But despotism, tyranny, illegality, the violation of national and human rights that prevail in Muslim countries, led by emirs, shahs, kings, ayatollahs, presidents and prime ministers, will end one day! We believe that we will liberate our lands from Armenian occupation and establish on our historical territories a United, Free, Developed Azerbaijan!"

The letter condemns close relations between Iran and Armenia and calls on Azerbaijani Turks to oppose them. "A country that describes itself as an Islamic republic has been nursing the Christian, terrorist state of Armenia for 22 years and providing it with assistance."

The two South Caucasus countries fought a bitter war over Armenia's claims on the Azerbaijani territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. The war ended with a cease-fire in 1994 but no long-term peace deal. Armenian armed forces occupy a swathe of Azerbaijani territory, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.

The World Azerbaijani Congress held a picket outside the Iranian embassy in Baku on Wednesday to protest at what it sees as Iranian support for Armenia and the country's failure to uphold Muslim solidarity.

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