Home Minorities ETHNIC AND RELIGIOUS GROUPS IN IRAN -UN report
ETHNIC AND RELIGIOUS GROUPS IN IRAN -UN report Print E-mail

 

The policy of governmental resistance towards ethnic minorities has remained unchanged in Iran since the early decades of the twentieth century. Successive Iranian regimes have tried to build up the nation and maintain unity through emphasising the ascendancy of the Persian ethnic group and making its Persian (or Farsi) language the only official language. All other ethnic groups have either faced non-recognition or clear repression. Whilst over time certain officials have come from particular ethnic minorities, this has largely been through individual upward mobility rather than through positive encouragement or representation of their community. Whilst ethnic representation in the national Parliament continues, “The Iranian leadership deals with these problems [of non-Persian national minorities in Iran] by trying to involve representatives of ethnic groups and national minorities into government structures, but they do not make any concessions in the fields of language, culture or self-governance.”

 The dominant trend through successive governmental regimes has definitely been on the centralisation of political life and the dominance of Persians, rather than on political decentralisation or measures of minority self-government. So much so that all attempts at mobilising minority representation have been considered as secessionist in ambition and been strongly resisted by the central government. The resistance shown to the Kurds and Azeris attempting to promote their language in schools demonstrates this well.  These policies are all the more surprising considering that approximately half of the population of Iran consist of non-Persians. Iran’s ethnic minorities include sizable populations of Azeris, Kurds, Gilakis and Mazandaranis. Lurs, Arabs and Baluchis. Most of these ethnic minority populations extend beyond the borders of Iran – the Azeris with Azerbaijan and Turkey, the Kurds with Iraq and Turkey, the Arabs with the Gulf region and Iraq and the Baluchis with Pakistan and Afghanistan.
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