The fundamentalist regime of Iran has according to information received by the Society for Threatened Peoples (GfbV) not only most of the young people and a large part of the female population against it. Also the much persecuted or suppressed non-Persian ethnic groups and non-Shiite religious communities, which make up about 60% of the population, are in the main against the dictatorship. “Many representatives of the nationalities in Iran are demanding federalism on the European pattern”,
said Tilman Zülch, chairperson of the GfbV, on Tuesday in Göttingen.
The Iranian Kurds, who number about ten million, lost all faith in the regime after the merciless crushing of the uprising of 1968 and the murders of their General Secretary, Abdulrahman Ghassemlou in Vienna in 1989 and of Dr. Sadegh Shrafkandi in the restaurant Mykonos in Berlin in 1993. Kurds in their tens of thousands are thought to have been murdered at this time.
Likewise the 15 to 20 million Azeris, who are Shiites, are not recognized as an ethnic community with their own language, culture and history. In kindergarten, schools and universities the Azerbaijan language, a Turksprache, is not allowed. In May 2006 Iranian paramilitary shot several hundred Azeri in demonstrations. Several thousand were arrested and tortured.
The number of Ahwazi, the Gulf Arabs in Khuzestan, is estimated at 4.5 million. Bitter poverty marks the daily life of this ethnic group. The Ahwazi are to the present day for the most part illiterate. The “Iranisation” of their region on the Persian Gulf is to be promoted by changing the population. This area has been declared a military closed zone.
The Baluchi, who number some 2.5 million, profess for the most part Sunni Islam. They suffer from ethnic and religious discrimination. Their economically backward settlements are systematically neglected.
Since the foundation of the Islamic Republic or Iran the Sunni Turkmens, numbering about two million, have been hampered in practising their culture, language and religion. Unemployment in this region is more than 40%.
All religious minorities in Iran, Sunnis and Zoroastrians (30,000), Jews (about 25,000), Assyrians (still about 15,000) and Armenians (still a few thousand) are oppressed or discriminated.
The group suffering worst from persecution is that of the Baha’i, the largest religious minority numbering about 300,000. They are accused of blasphemy and severe violations of human rights such as arrest, torture and execution are the order of the day. Hate sermons, defamatory reports in the media, confiscation of property and the destruction of cemeteries and other holy sites have increased recently. Their leaders were arrested in the spring of 2008. These men and women are threatened with the death penalty.