Saturday, October 22, 2005

Separatists Discuss Future of Iran - By Setare Kaviyan and Ruzbeh Hosseini

On October 26, 2005, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) is hosting an event called The Unknown Iran that is being moderated by Michael A. Ledeen. The occasion is billed as a panel discussion on the plight of Iran's minorities and their hopes for a democratic future. Although this may not seem abnormal, there is one problem: the panelists are separatists. That's right, you read correctly. At the same time that unknown elements have placed and detonated bombs in Iran the AEI, a conservative think-tank based in Washington D.C., has suspiciously rolled out the red carpet for these seperatis characters. The names of the panelists are Ali Al-Taie (Shaw University), Morteza Esfandiari (Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan), and Rahim M. Shahbazi (Azerbaijani Societies of North America). Although Hussein Bor (Baluchistan United Front) was also invited to the conference, the party has denied any involvement and official party sources have confirmed that they had originally declined to be involved. Thus, the use of their name by AEI is not legitimate. It is also important to mention that Baluchistan United Front's official policy is to foster an independent Baloch province within a Federalist Iran. Information about the other groups planning to attend the conference is found below.

Dr. Ali Al Taie is a sociology professor at Shaw University in theUnited States. Mr. Taie is the author of The Arabs of Khuzestan and Iran: A socio-political History, both of which promote separatist ideologies regarding Ahwaz and Iran. Mr. Taie is also a prominent member of the Democratic Solidarity Party of Al-Ahwaz (English) . This group seeks the right to the self determination of the Arabic population situated in Ahwaz and Khuzestan Province.

The group's mandate states that they are seeking an Iranian government that will recognize the right of self determination of not only Arabs, but also Balouch, Azari, Turks, and Kurdish minorities. Thus, the group has never made it a secret that they want the separation of Khuzestan from Iran. Although the group has consistently stated that they are peaceful, it is extremely difficult to imagine how such event could ever take place peacefully considering the nationalist sentiments of the Iranian people, including the Arabic minority. Not only has this group stated its intention of struggling for self determination, but they have also consistently encouraged other minority groups to fight for self determination as well. This goes further to show their separatist and non-Iranian views and intentions.

It is true that about 70% of the population of the Khuzestan province consists of Arabs, but that in no way indicates any intention of separation by this population. During the Iran-Iraq war Saddam Hussein tried very hard to take advantage of the Arab majority in Khuzestan, believing that they would join the Iraqis and fight against theIranians. Saddam was sorely disappointed when the people of Khuzestan did everything they could to defend Iran and showed their true nationalist sentiments.

Rahim Shahbazi is a prominent member of the Azerbaijani Societies of North America and a known separatist. Mr. Shahbazi believes in the separation of Azarbaijan province from Iran and he has struggled continuously to achieve this goal. In an email Mr. Shahbazi wrote to an associate in March of 1999, he stated that he will fight until he has liberated South Azarbaijan from Iran and that he and that his "brothers and sisters" are just waiting for the right time before they attack the Persians and liberate Azarbaijan. Mr. Shahbazi's intentions are clearly not aligned with the Iranian people and are directed towards separation of Azarbaijan from Iran.

Shahbazi comments against Iranians on a news group.

Mr. Morteza Esfandiari is a Washington representative of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan. The Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan is a separatist party that was formed on August 16, 1945. In 1946, the former Soviet Republic helped the party establish what was called the Republic of Kurdistan (or the Republic of Mahabad) in Iranian territory for approximately one year, after which it was crushed by Iranian forces when the soviets left. Although the party has been largely insignificant since 1947, its legitimacy is believedto be increasing through clandestine support by opponents of Iran. Mr.Morteza Esfandiari is a relative unknown. Aside from being invited byAEI as a panellist, he has also recently been quoted in the news media on various Kurdish issues in the Middle East. It is also important to note that the party does not recognize the Iranian flag. Instead, the party boasts its own national flag which is used by other Kurdish separatist groups as well. Much of this information can be found ontheir website.

All three parties have consistently complained about the human rights abuses faced by their respective populations at the hands of the Islamic Regime in Iran (IRI) and they have come to the conclusion that the only solution is a separatist movement leading to self determination. The parties state that the IRI does not represent the minorities in Iran, yet it fails to mention that only 10% of theIranian population supports the present regime. Therefore, the government is not the representative of Iranians as a whole. It has violated the rights of women, children, students, activists, and journalist regardless of their ethnicity. This brutal regime has never represented the Iranian people who have always embraced each other regardless of ethnicity or religion throughout history.

While it is totally legitimate to struggle to bring a democratic government to Iran that will protect the social, political, cultural, and economical rights of all Iranians, the actions of the Democratic Solidarity Party of Al Ahwaz, Azerbaijani Societies of North America, and Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan have crossed an unacceptable line and moved into separatist movements that will not be tolerated by the Iranian people as a whole.

By: Setare Kaviyan is the Director of Human Rights Committee of theMarze Por Gohar Party, Iranians for a Secular and Ruzbeh Hosseini.

Please take a moment sign the petition linked below and protest AEI'sconference.


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