Iran Must Heed It's Own Constitution

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Sun Oct 12 18:00:51 UTC 2008

  Iran Must Heed It's Own Constitution *11 October 2008*
Human rights monitors say that at least eight activists have been detained
by the Iranian government since July of this year. According to the director
of the Association for the Defense of Azerbaijani Political Prisoners,
Fakhteh Zamani, university students Maqsoud Ahdi, Mansour Aminian, Aydin
Khajei, Amir Mardani, Majid Makuyi, Sejjad Radmehr, Feraz Zahtab, and
Dariush Hatemi, were arrested in a series of raids in July and August.
Although none of these men has been charged with a crime, human rights
monitors say that they are prisoners of conscience, arrested for the
expression of their beliefs. All of them have been active in the movement
calling for Azerbaijani minority rights, says Fakhteh Zamani:

"They are calling for greater cultural and linguistic rights. These include
the right to education using the Azerbaijani-Turkic language, which they
believe is provided under the constitution." According to Article Fifteen of
the Iranian Constitution, although Persian is the official language, "the
use of regional and tribal languages in the press and mass media, as well as
for teaching of their literature in schools, is allowed in addition to
The Azerbaijanis are the largest minority in Iran, believed to constitute 25
to 30 percent of the population. Despite a long-standing policy of forced
assimilation and discrimination by the Iranian government against
non-Persian ethnic groups, recent years have seen a rise of Azerbaijani
national consciousness, and a degree of promotion of the study and
celebration of Azerbaijani culture, language and history. The Iranian
government has responded with arrests, detentions, threats and other
violations of human rights.

The U.S. calls on Iran to heed its own Constitution, and afford its
minorities the rights guaranteed by Article Nineteen, which states, in its
entirety: "All people of Iran, whatever the ethnic group or tribe to which
they belong, enjoy equal rights; and color, race, language, and the like, do
not bestow any privilege."

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