London, Great Britain
Peace-building from minority perspective
Dear Participants of the Conference,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very honoured to participate in the Conference held by The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation, which is the one of the main centres of the world for the voices and needs of indigenous people, minorities, nations and territories which are not recognized.
Significance to this event is given by the fact that it has been organised in one of the democratic centres of the world as Europe, for what I would like to express my big gratitude. In its’ long path to modern clear future, Europe could create the worlds’ most tolerant and democratic system, which has built the union where impressive number of countries are united, at the same time keeping their uniqueness and preserving the identity of every country and nation.
Also, I would like to congratulate my Talysh people with this event, which is to be regarded for us as outstanding, as the issue and problems of our people at last are going to be in the spotlight of democratic society and the voice of Talyshs is to be heard in the world.
The subject matter of present Conference is very important for all minorities or indigenous people living in Azerbaijan, as well as for all Talyshs, who are deeply concerned in the preservation of their ethnic identity.
Actually, this topic is in the main agenda of publicity of last years in Azerbaijan, but of course, and unfortunately, in the negative context. Taking into account the contradictions between Armenians and Azerbaijanis in Karabakh region, the emerging issue of minorities, instead of being solved in the peaceful environment, encounters big difficulties and lots of obstacles. Therefore, the discussion and possible outcomes from this Conference might have special importance for all people of the country in order to avoid possible negative effects for all parties.
We would like to bring into attention of the world society that we are not confused about our demands, about what we want. All we want are the basic rights, which are very simple and easily understood: it is the freedom. Freedom of being ourselves, freedom of speech and a press in our language; freedom to have decision making power for our region, the right to be secure in our homes, when we want or plan to make, say, simple research about our own culture, history, ethnicity and to be free from arrest and punishment for all these activities, example of what could be shown the late Novruzali Mamedov, who was killed in jail, and whose family was almost destroyed, and recently imprisoned Hilal Mamedov for five years under trumped-up accusations.
As a citizen of any country, we have lots of obligations. We must serve to our country, we must love it, we must devote ourselves to everything that relates to it, which every Talysh does with pleasure, in fact, no one can argue about how our people are really peaceful, decent and brave! Lots of obligations, but in turn, we do not have elementary rights even to learn our mother language properly, or we cannot make research and learn the history and culture of our people, which simply means that you can't talk about yourself and who you are, which is the clear attempt of assimilation. Because for such actions, not only you will be persecuted, but also your relatives and family members as well, will be persecuted and arrested, and subsequently, you will be deprived from everything that relates to your national identity.
I would like to mention about the situation with Talysh radio which has been launched in Karabakh since one year. It would be lie to tell that Talyshs do not listen to this radio. I can see how positively it influences to our people, how everyone, whom I have a chance to meet, tries to sing familiar to them folk songs while listening to the radio and share information about the programmes …why we can’t organise such radio in our own home cities? Why we are deprived from such, at the first sight, simple and not difficult thing, for such a "rapidly growing country”, as it is constantly been declaring almost every day by every official, in each meeting, be it official or not…
Sometimes, we are told that, of course, by the opposition members of the country, as if, the country has big problems, full of corruption, and when everything will be changed, country shall become democratic, and then...rights of indigenous and minorities also will be considered etc. and until this...no one should even mention about himself... To my opinion, it sounds very strange and no more than absurd for the society who are claiming for democracy.
Why keeping my identity and culture which is part of the basic human rights issue, which is the one of the essential features of the state in order to be regarded as constitutional in the eyes of international community, should be dependent on some circumstances? Why "rapidly increasing country”, see the Talysh issue as a problem for development of the country?
It is very sad that such a contradictory and strange thoughts and sayings could be met in whole Azerbaijani society regardless of their political views, whether they oppose the current political system or defend it, which blame our people as if in separate demands.
Even when you are talking to your friends or family members in Talysh, at first glance, being engaged in some innocent chat with them, some Azeri Turkish person will immediately and aggressively oppose telling that, you behave like enemies, or you want to divide the country, you are all engaged in separatism, etc. I don’t remember any big or less mass meeting or event of last years where I did not encounter with such attitude.
Very paradoxically, the constant accusations in separatism of the representatives of Talysh people, even when they are talking in family atmosphere, are accompanying by revived in recent years panturkism movement , the slogan of which says that only Turk can be friend of Turk. How one can claim the loyalty from others and demand a devotion, if he initially declares that he is not friend to him...
Despite all these mentioned difficulties and tensions, it is noteworthy that our people did not vanish. They kept their own world and culture although our people are suffering lot to keep it. Using the modern technologies, we are trying to overcome our cultural and political isolation, we are trying to join together to keep, to develop and to reclaim our essential identity and spread our culture, to be part of the global world as Talyshs.
I think, people must be given a chance in order to ask from them after. I would like to quote the famous Russian writer, Alexander Soljenitsyin, who told: You only have power over people so long as you don't take everything away from them. But when you've robbed a man of everything, he's no longer in your power - he's free again.
These words should make every person in the country, regardless his political views, to think over the policy regarding the indigenous and minorities, who want the preservation and prosperity of the country, especially in the context of already existing situation.
Resuming my speech, I would like to emphasize again that in the place where minority rights are consistently ignored, there is always a risk of conflicts. According to approximate statistics about 80 percent of the world’s conflicts have an ethnic dimension. The factors that serve as a base for possible conflicts, such as historical marginalisation of one group by another, rejection of a people's identity and land rights, speeches full of hatred to each other, at last, non-acceptance of the existence of the problem will only harm the country. As conflicts occur, the stressed position of minorities makes them even more susceptible to be engaged in any kind of conflicts, and then peace among people will be threatened.
We think others should not treat us differently from the way they wish to be treated. The famous human rights defender of the century, Nelson Mandela in his complicated and brave struggle for human rights told that: ‘If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart’.
I am sure that only mutual acceptance, mutual understanding and mutual respect among people can be the main keys to solution of the problems in a way of peace-building with indigenous people and minorities alongside with all other groups of the country regardless of the territory and ethnic identity.
Let's try to understand and accept each other as we are…
Thank you for your precious attention!