Prof. Hooshang Amirahmadi is the founder and president of (www.american-iranian.org), holds a Ph.D. in planning and international development from Cornell University and is a professor of the Edward J.Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, at Rutgers University Professor Amirahmadi has served as director of the University's Center for Middle Eastern Studies, as chair and graduate director of his department at the Bloustein School, and as the University Coordinator of the Hubert Humphrey Fellowship Program. Dr. Amirahmadi is also a founder of the Center for Iranian Research and Analysis and served as its director for many years. He was a candidate for President in the Ninth Presidential Election in Iran in June 2005, but the conservative and religious Guardian Council disqualified him for his American citizenship and democratic platform. Dr. Amirahmadi is also the president of Caspian Associates, Inc. (http://www.caspian-associates.com), an international strategic consulting firm headquartered in Princeton, New Jersey.
Professor Amirahmadi is the author of the Revolution and Economic Transition: The Iranian Experience, the first book-length analysis of the post-revolutionary Iran, and the three other books in Persian on civil society, industrial policy, and geopolitics of energy. Dr. Amirahmadi is also editor of the 10 books on Iran and the Greater Middle East, and 16 conference proceedings on US-Iran relations. His edited books include The Caspian Region at a Crossroad: A New Frontier of Energy and Development; Small Islands, Big Politics: The Tomb and Abu Musa Islands in the Persian Gulf; The United States and the Middle East: A Search for New Perspectives; Post-Revolutionary Iran; Iran and the Arab World; and Reconstruction and Regional Diplomacy in the Persian Gulf. He has also claims to have authored over 200 journal articles and book chapters as well as numerous editorials, magazine articles, interviews and book reviews (in English and Persian). A frequent contributor to many conferences in Europe, North America, Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East, Dr. Amirahmadi's writings have been translated and published in the Europe, Iran and the Arab world.
He is a recipient of several competitive fellowships and grants from distinguished private foundations and corporations including Department of Higher Education, Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Open Society Institute, and is a frequent contributor to national and international TV (including CNN, FOX, BBC, ABC, PBS, VOA), radio, and newspapers. He has also served as consultant for the UNDP, the Aga Khan Foundation, the World Bank, and several governments, law firms, and private companies throughout the world. Professor Amirahmadi is a sage. He detected and wrote on the Iranian civil society and reform movement long before it actually materialized in the administration of President Mohammad Khatami. He also predicted its demise and the reappearance of anti-reform forces. Dr. Amirahmadi's pioneering work on dialogue, understanding and better relations between the United States and Iran is widely panned in the United States, Iran and beyond, particularly among former policymakers and marginalized legislators. His graduate teachings at Rutgers include courses on global restructuring and public policy, international economic development, and national and regional development planning and policy.
- Dear Professor, first of all, on behalf of the editorial board and readers of "Voice of Talysh” and www.talish.org we greet You on the pages of our newspaper and site. Our first question is: It’s well known that at the end of April (more exactly, April, 26-30, 2009) you’ve visited Azerbaijan for the first time. What places did You visit and whom did you meet with? What was Your impression about what you’ve seen here?
- I truly enjoyed the trip. My Talishi colleagues were most hospitable and kind. I had a great time with them in Baku and in the Talish region. I was most pleased to see that they have not culturally changed much. I felt at home wherever I went and whatever I saw. The life of the Talishis seemed okay but not very improved over the years. Obviously there has been discrimination against them. Nevertheless, Talishis have great spirit and are looking forward to better life. I am sure they will make it!
Baku is a great city and growing. I wish its residents the best. My meetings with Azeri officials went very well. My talk at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy (of Foreign Ministry) went very well as well. I was surprised with the Azeri nationalistic reactions and questions for me. I handled them fairly and diplomatically. I felt they were very misinformed about the history of Azeris in Iran and in the Republic. They need to learn more historical facts.
- Professor, when You visited Baku the former late editor-in-chief of our newspaper "The Voice of Talysh” Novruzali Mammadov was imprisoned under framed-up case, so called, "High Treason” and "espionage in favour of Iran”. Not as Talysh, but as a simple American and Persian civilian and diplomatic worker what did You first think about this incident? For example, did You think of how the Scientist-Linguist could betray his country and spy on in favour of foreign country? What else did You think having got to know about Professor Novruzali Mammadov’s mysterious death just after three months that You visited Baku?
- I was most lucky, honored and pleased to have the opportunity to visit Novruzali’s house, his brother, family and other relatives and friends. It was heartbreaking for me to see a great Talishi in jail at the time. When I heard of his death in prison all the memory in Talish region came to me and made me even more proud that I had been with the family. Unfortunately, the US government did not react appropriately to this crime. Business relations dominate other interests. I think what the Azeri Government did was horrible, an act of human rights abuse in its worst form. But Talish has many Novruzalis! I am sure his dreams will be continued. I salute him for his courage and thoughtfulness and ask that the Talishis all over the world try to keep his name and dreams alive.
- Professor, as is known that the only and the most popular Talysh magazine "Talysh” have been closed recently and Shahram Azmode- Editor-in-chief of the same issue have been taken into prison supposedly due to the national-ethnic and religious discord in the magazine. May be the same interested dirty hands stand for these incidents?
- With Dr. Hilal Mamedov, Ali Nasir and other friends, I went from Baku to Talish region of Azerbaijan and from there we entered the Talish in Iran. Only Hilal came with me to Iran. It was a historic trip and my best ever. I will never forget that trip. It was also during that trip that we met with Shahram Azmoudeh in Talish City. What a wise man! I truly enjoyed my discussion with him. I am sorry that he has been imprisoned for a baseless charge. Fortunately, I am told his charge is not political but is related to a private complaint. The last news I have is that he has been sentenced to six months in jail, of which he has already served a few months. He should hopefully be freed soon, and when that happens, we will all celebrate. No Talishis should be in prison anywhere, ever! My picture with Hilal, Shahram and others have been circulating the Facebook!
- Professor, what do you think, why such unpleasant incidents occur? And how Talyshs should protect and develop their languages and cultures in such difficult situations?
Talishis are a great people and the Talish region is a most beautiful and rich land. Talishis are also very historic, with a culture and language that goes back to many thousands of years. But Talishis are also a divided people and that historic cruelty against them is a major cause of discrimination against them. It is important that Talishis become united in their purpose and promote their geography, language and culture. They must also insist in keeping their TAKLISHI identity alive! Every Talishi must always say he or she is a Talishi! The very word "TALISH” must be placed on everywhere in our life! That way Talish will live despite discrimination and difficulties. Talishis must also learn to become patient and strategic in their thoughts and actions. Education and new ideas are essential to Talishi development. Every Talishi should become a highly educated person. Education is the key to our future identity and prosperity.
- What would You wish to our newspaper "The Voice of Talysh”, www.talish.org and its readers? We express our gratitude to You in advance. Thanks a lot!
You are doing a fantastic job in promoting Talish. Language remains a barrier for communication. Talishis need to find a way to communicate better and more effectively. May be all materials should be posted in several languages, including Talishi, Azeri, Farsi and English! This is a very expensive proposal but funds can be raised. Thanks God, there are many wealthy Talishis and others who are politically well-placed. We must put our advantages to better use. I wish for every Talishi the best of health, joy and prosperity.