Baku, Azerbaijan, Feb. 21
By Umid Niayesh - Trend:
Tens of Iranian Azerbaijani cultural activists have been arrested in the city of Ahar in the East Azerbaijan province of Iran ahead of International Mother Language Day, the Association for the Defense of Azerbaijani Political Prisoners in Iran (ADAPP) reported on Feb. 20.
The report has published names of some 60 arrested civil activists which were gathered in a home in Ahar.
Ebrahim Rashidi and Abbas Lesani who have been arrested several times due to their civil rights and mother language activities are among the arrested persons.
The International Mother Language Day is an observance held annually on February 21 worldwide to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. It was first announced by UNESCO on November 17, 1999. Its observance was also formally recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution establishing 2008 as the International Year of Languages.
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani published a statement in June 2013, during his presidential campaign regarding teaching the ethnic mother languages of Iranians (Kurdish, Azerbaijani, Arabic, etc.), officially emphasizing his intention to fully implement Article 15.
On Jan. 20, Iranian media outlets quoted president's special aide for the affairs of ethnic groups and religious minorities, Ali Younesi saying Iran is preparing to launch special educational courses for different ethnic groups in the country which was followed by negative reactions among some entities and extremist politician in Iran. Younesi said that the government held several meetings with the country's Ministry of Education, and the issue is currently being assessed.
In a meeting with Iranian education minister, Ali Asghar Fani on Jan. 28, members of the Persian Language and Literature Academy expressed concern about possible teaching regional (ethnic) languages by the administration, saying that it is a serious threat against the Persian language.
Earlier in October, 2013, Iranian Jamaran news portal quoted country's Education Minister, Ali Asghar Fani as saying that teaching ethnic languages at Iranian schools is priority of the Ministry. He went on to note that it is time to carry out article 15 of Iran's constitution.
Article 15 of Iran's constitution states that the "Official language (of Iran)... is Persian...[and]... the use of regional and tribal languages in the press and mass media, as well as for teaching their literature at schools, is allowed in addition to Persian.