Novruzali Mammadov (Mart 10, 1942 -
August 17, 2009) was a Talysh national minority activist in Azerbaijan,
PhD in Philology, editor of the now-defunct newspaper "Talyshi Sado”
("Voice of the Talysh”), recognized as a political prisoner by
international organizations, being held in violation of his rights to
freedom of expression and association Mammadov also worked at the
Institute of Linguistics of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences
and headed a Talysh cultural center, closed after his imprisonment.
On February 2, 2007, Mr. Novruzali Mammadov was called to the Ministry
of Internal Affairs, where he was kept for several days without
explanations, underwent beatings and was interrogated because he took
part in a scientific conference in Iran in 2004. After a short release,
he was detained at the Investigation Isolation Centre of the Ministry of
Internal Affairs, where he allegedly underwent physical and
psychological pressure for 15 days with the aim to force him to confess
the acts of "espionage” for Iran.
The Talysh are an Iranian people who are settled in the south-eastern
part of Azerbaijan, mainly in the Lenkeran, Yardimly, Masalli, Lerik and
Astara districts. The 1999 census registered 76’800 Talyshs in
Azerbaijan. Primarily, they are rural residents (97 per cent). The
latest census however indicates their presence also in the cities of
Sumgayit and Baku. The 1999 census data undoubtedly under-represents the
actual number of the Talysh population. A more realistic number seems
to be between 200’000 and 250’000 Talysh living in Azerbaijan.
Some of the Soviet censuses ignored the existence of Talyshs in
Azerbaijan: the 1926 census counted 77’039 Talyshs living in Soviet
Azerbaijan (3.3 per cent). In the 1959, 1970 and 1979 censuses they
simply disappeared from the list of Soviet ethnicities. Only in the 1989
census the Talysh had again the possibility to indicate their
ethnicity. However, only 21’200 people registered as Talysh, which
corresponds to 0.3 per cent of the population of Soviet Azerbaijan.
Interview with Dr.Hilal Mammadov,
Chairman of the Committee for protection of Novruzali Mammadov’s rights,
chief editor of the newspaper "Tolyshi Sado” ("Voice of Talysh”).
(Published in the journal "Talysh”, Gilan province of Islamic Republic of Iran, October, 2009)
- Dr. Hilal Mammadov, the sudden death of Novruzali Mammadov in the
jail shocked and worried all the Talysh people living in Iran. Everybody
unanimously think that the death of the scientist is directly related
to his activity in the field of undertaking researches about Talysh
people. It’s obvious that he was not a politician; however he was
arrested and jailed without any proof of being guilty. I’d like to ask
you, as the chairman of the protection committee of the rights of N.
Mammadov; when and for what reason you think he died?
- Well, both in our country and many other countries around the world
agreed on the fact that he was arrested and then killed in the jail
purposely due to his activity related to protection of national and
cultural rights of Talysh people.
Information on the condition of the Talyshi language.
Talyshi language being a member of the family of Irani languages belongs to the Indo-European language group. The specialists consider this language as a related language to the old Avesta language.
Historically, Talyshi language has been the native language of the people who live in the Talyshi region--south east of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the provinces of Gilan, Ardabil and others of Zenjan and Gazvin of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
According to unofficial information more than one million people in the Republic of Azerbaijan use Talyshi language at the level of every-day life.