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. As the protection committee of the rights of N.Mammadov we repeatedly addressed the authorities both in our country and international organizations in connection with his illegal conviction, imprisonment and serious illness trying to discharge him. A few days before he was relocated in the hospital of the prison, dysfunction of his right hand and partial function of his left hand were noticed. In this regard, we addressed the relevant organs/authorities with the alarm of "SOS” demanding to provide specialists, professionals dealing with that sphere of medicine to cure N.Mammadov. The representatives of the Council of Europe, OSCE, International Red Cross and other international organizations have also called on the authorities with similar demands. Unfortunately, our demands were not responded. After the death of N.Mammadov the authorities of the executive entity, where N.Mammadov was kept, announced that as if "he himself didn’t want to be cured”. And some other state officials said in a very cynical manner that "people also die in an ordinary hospital either” trying to present his death as if nothing seriously had happen ,the death which was the result of numerous tortures and deprivations that N.Mammadov was subjected to during the two years and eight months. Actually, it’s impossible to expect any concern or more humane feelings from those executioners who did not give permission to the person to meet with his family /wife even at the very last moment of his life…
- Naturally, any healthy person may die of getting a car accident or die of a sudden heart shock. However, it is evident that N.Mammadov didn’t suffer from any serious heart diseases and those inessential diseases that were observed couldn’t serve as the reason of his death. How do you think, does it give reason to suppose that the death of the scientist has been planned in advance?
- On July 28th of 2009, professor N.Mammadov was transferred to the prison hospital and within the twenty days, in August 17, he died. I had met with him six days before he was transferred to the hospital. Surely, problem with moving his hands had slowed down, he had problems with eyesight, prostates and some other diseases. But he never complained of heartache, was in a healthy state of mind. We discussed different topics for three hours. Of course, we touched upon the question related to his relocation to hospital as well. He was not against that, but said: "it is quite possible that I will be killed there”. As a reply to his words I said: "but you’re under the direct supervision of the Council of Europe, OSCE and other international organizations and it’s hardly possible that the officials will commit such inhuman action”. He answered: "they are in such bitterness that they will disregard the observation even by Almighty God…” Certainly, the mysterious death of the professor provides a ground to make some conclusions…
- Dr.H.Mammadov, a few days after the death of professor N.Mammadov, you came to Iran. Could you tell us about your meetings in Tehran? With whom, of the officials of the country, you could meet? Did you inform them that N.Mammadov’s arrest was linked to Iran, and the accusation brought against him was that as if he spied in favor of Iran and he was convicted and died in the prison? What was the answer of the Iranian officials? How did your meetings go with the representatives of Talysh communities in Tehran and Gilan, what problems did you discuss there?
- Well, three days after the N.Mammadov’s funeral in his native village of Archivan in Astara district I arrived in Iran. Firstly, the main goal of my visit was to get answers to some questions related N.Mammadov’s case that I was concerned as human right activists from several official representatives of your country. Another goal of my visit was to contact the leadership and representatives of the culture center "TalyshiKa” (i.e.”Talysh House”) and conduct discussions with them on this problem and many other issues that interested me as one of the active representatives of Talysh intelligentsia. It is well known that N.Mammadov was famous all over the world as the researcher of Talysh language, had a great reputation among the Talyshes both, living in Iran and Azerbaijan, but his arrest and death were directly linked to your country. In the course of investigations and also during the legal proceedings with regard to the case of the professor, your country’s name was mentioned as giving assignment to the "hostile activity” of N.Mammadov against Azerbaijan and in favour of Iran”. Of course, the investigation bodies couldn’t present any fact proving the professor’s activity in espionage. But this couldn’t prevent the authorities from keeping the guiltless person in the solitary confinements of MNS or in any other punishment cell within the two years and eight months where he was subjected to innumerable tortures and humiliations. The human rights defenders in our country, all the international human right protecting organizations, Council of Europe, OSCE and some official representatives of USA made de facto recognition of N.Mammadov as a political prisoner, prisoner of conscience, the protector of the rights of Talysh nation and demanded his immediate release . From this point of view, within the two years and eight months, we and some others were interested in one question: it’s clear that the international community and official organizations, as well as, even forces that are at enmity with your country, came out with political actions and statements against the illegal/groundless arrest of N.Mammadov. Why your country never expressed its dissatisfaction towards this matter to Azerbaijan. As Islamic Republic of Iran has always been mentioned in the course of the legal proceedings, blamed in interference into the internal affairs of Azerbaijan ,as if, trying to establish "a spy net” in its territory. The silence by the side of Iranian authorities gave cause to spreading of the skeptical conclusions both among our colleagues and many other alien forces that openly hostile to your country: "if silence, then, there is something”. And it’s not the end… To day a number of people are arrested or prosecuted because of the links with Iran. Pity that because of unknown reasons it’s not enlightened by the mass media (MM) and not reflected in the reports produced by human rights protectors… It’s already not a secret that the majority of the civilians of Azerbaijan, who practiced religious knowledge in Iran and especially in city of Gum, are exposed to prosecutions and no doubt that the Iranian side is informed about this. Then, why do they keep silence? Why do they not declare? "the religious knowledge or religious views obtained in this or any other country give no base for being prosecuted”.
- Why the Azerbaijan side is not asked: "what state secrets could he- professor of linguistics N.Mammadov share and what rewards in large denominations did he get for this?” Why not to ask that "let’s suppose, as it’s follows from the groundless slanderous accusations that Iran rendered a charitable aid to Talysh Culture center. Sorry, is it forbidden?!” In fact cultural, national and financial support to Turkish-speaking nations is regarded as "charitable”, but why the same actions towards the Iranian-speaking nations is called "espionage” and "betraying the Azerbaijani state system”? Then why hundred of people got grants form Israel, USA and other states is not reckoned as "espionage”, "high treason”?
- In order to get answers to these questions as a human right protector I decided to appeal to the authority of Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran. The representative of the local Talysh communities was also expecting answers to such kind of questions eagerly. You see, and the Talyshes of Iran repeatedly addressed to the authorities and every time failed to get any concrete answers… Like us they were also very concerned about this groundless arrest and the tragic death of N.Mammadov which is absolutely right as professor N.Mammadov was the son of the single nation that has been divided into two halves as fate decreed. And the political boarder lines could never be able to destroy the endless love of the children of a single nation to each other. That’s why the Talyshes of Iran also call on the authority of their state to stand in defense of N.Mammadov as it is done by the states of Europe and America…
Unfortunately, we failed to meet with the authority of the MFA and other religious leaders of your country because of the existing socio-political situation after the presidential elections… In spite of everything the authority of the historical-scietifical center of MFA of Iran received us very kind-hearted, listened to us attentively and promised to inform their authority about the questions that concerned us…
- Dr.Mammadov, really, if the scientific and public activities of N.Mammadov were directed to defend the integrity of the people, the prosperity of its culture, then, what is the logic of calling him as "Iranian spy” and "traitor”? Why the representatives of one and the same nation have no rights to discuss their national, cultural problems jointly and support each other both morally and materially? Or, these relationships have to be maintained with the direct permission and supervision of MNS (KGB) or ETTELAT?
- You raised a very important question. And I agree with you, that N.Mammadov was the ustadon (i.e. teacher) of all the Talyshes. The discussion at the Culture Center "TaleshiKa” ("Talysh house”) went off very interestingly and in an emotional atmosphere. This event was attended by several officials of Tehran city and MFA. Through a direct TV broadcasting I answered to many questions that have been put by the radio-TV listeners living in the different countries. The arrest of the scientist who was absolutely far from the politics and his mysterious death shocked not only the Talyshes in the world but also the representatives of all other nations as well. In connection with this an official protest was adopted on behalf of the Iranian Talyshes and the similar protest was officially addressed to the Embassy of Azerbaijan in Iran. Such kind of protests has been held in other cities of Iran, for example, in Masal, Fumen, Hashtpar, Shanderman and etc. Different religious ceremonies have been held in many mosques in a memory of N.Mammadov. I’m obliged to state that all these ceremonies had been held in the direct initiative of the Talyshes. But, the Iranian authorities kept silence for some unknown reasons… And now, to be frank I’m anxious about the fates of those courageous Talysh people who organized all those ceremonies. It’s quite possible that they will be subjected to prosecutions in one or other ways because of an impulse of their hearts that reacted … Today in our country, it’s impossible to hold ceremonies of that kind, you know, there are no guarantees for not repeating such tragedies. After the investigations and legal proceedings on N.Mammadov’s case there is no doubt that there are dossiers filed in the archive of MNS not of Talysh activists but also of ordinary Talysh intelligentsia. And it’s quite possible that very soon one of them will have to suffer the same tragedy of N.Mammadov. Though it sounds a bit exaggerated, but sometimes it seems that each Talysh individual is under their control. Please, just ask youself, how one can accept Iran’s next "silence” in case when similar tragedies are repeated again?
Yes, we understand that some hostile forces in USA, Israel and other states try to weaken your country by anyway and, naturally, the main objective of your leaders is to prevent this. But it doesn’t bear the logic that in all over the country , the emotional slogans of "Marg bar Israel” (i.e. "Death to Israel!” or ”Marg bar America” ("Death to America” are voiced ,however in the neighboring country, a serious accusation directly towards your country is pronounced by a highest level of Azerbaijan, but the official Tehran keeps silence. I know that it will displease your authorities, but for all that I dare say: Just this "marg bar” America made protest on the case of N.Mammadov, but Iran still keeps silence, though even Iran is blamed for the alleged crime. By the way, America could also keep silence saying "marg bar Iran”…
- Doctor, what do you think about E.Guliyev, the employee of the newspaper "Tolyshi Sado” ("Voice of Talysh”) who has been arrested together with N.Mammadov, will he be facing with similar tragedy?
- E.Guliyev was a puppet with psychologically unstable health that had been used as a tool for falsely accusing N.Mammadov. It goes without saying that E.Guliyev had been bought over with some promises by the secret organs to collaborate and he was promised that in case of confession in being guilty in espionage to "expose” the "agent” N.Mammadov he would be helped during the legal proceedings. And as a reward to his false confession, he would be set free after a couple of years. Threfore, E.Guliyev, deceived by the investigating officials, in a most dishonest way acted against his teacher. After the N.Mammadov’s death he is not needed at all and it’s quite possible that he would also be killed in a definite way just there…
- Was he released after the "avowal of guilt” or still suffering in the jail?
- No, he is still in the jail and kept in an indefinite place. And the jail has its unwritten rules and people. Surely, the person who slandered his teacher will not be forgiven. Perhaps, he will be punished just there…
- And in one of his interview A.Humbatov said that E.Guliyev gave such evidenced under the pressure and torture. But you have just mentioned that he did it because of believing the promises by MNS?!
- Of course, under the pressure he was ordered what had to say. The pressure was applied to some other witnesses and part of them also made similar "avowal of being guilty”. But at the legal proceedings they declared (unanimously) that their confessions were the results of psychological and physical pressure applied by the investigation officials. But E.Guliyev didn’t behave so, thinking that the more he testified falsely against N.mammadov the earlier he would be released. I wish that at least some part of these shows that went on behind closed doors would have been presented to the public court…
- Dr.H.Mammadov, in your opinion, was it possible to send the professor out of Azerbaijan before his death as it occurred with A.Humbatov? What is the opinion of his family on this occasion?
- Yes, the wife of the professor M.Mammadova made a request to the authorities for giving them an opportunity to leave the country together with N.Mammadov. In all her appeals to officials of the country she had written that as a pressure towards her husband, the MNS used the dirtiest methods. For example, both of his sons were abducted systematically by the officials of MNS and police, brutally beaten and then released. The elder son of N.Mammadov Kamran Mammadov could not bare such tortures and died at the age of 35 from heart attack. Even this didn’t provoke any feelings of compassion in authorities. However, two days ago when I was in Iran I read the appeal of this courageous woman to the public on the occasion of her husband’s death and I could not stop crying. "I intended to leave the country together with my husband, but he was killed in the jail, and now I swear that I’ll do all my best to rehabilitate him. Inshaallah, I’ll prove to the world that that my husband was falsely accused and killed in the jail”- said in the appeal. Yes, it is the tragedy of 70 year-old courageous woman, a mother who has recently lost the young son either…
- We do believe, the time will come and the cry from the heart of this wise woman will be heard not only in our country but also in all over the world and hangmen (executioners) who committed a sin in killing N.Mammadov will face the severe punishment! Inshaallah!
- Yesterday the Chairman of "TalyshiKa” ("The House of Talysh”), professor of the Tehran University Tahir Nizami gave an interview to "Sedaye Sema” (Iran TV) on the occasion of the appeal of M.Mammadov. Those words touched upon the hearts of all the listeners: "How one can be remain indifferent to the tragedy of Maryam khanum, like Zeynab khanum (crying from the excruciating torment of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Mahammad s.a.s.), breaking the heart of people: "You killed my natives- husband and son, and I’ll demonstrate to the entire world that you are directly guilty in those cruel assassinations. You have committed it because of the Talysh people and Talysh language. You want to destroy this nation and its language. You want to break off the relation between the Talyshes in Iran and Azerbaijan. You do stir up dissension and enmity between these countries and nations intentionally. I’m not afraid of you and will struggle for justice!” You witnessed to what condition the authorities of Azerbaijan led this 70 years-old woman, by brutally killing her husband and son. Maryam khanum is an avar by nationality, but with her revolt against injustice, like Zeynab khanum, she became an example not only for Azerbaijani and Talysh women but also for the women of Iran and in the entire world.
- Dr.H.Mammadov, you stated before that with regard to the tragic death of N.Mammadov there have been held number of events, different Talysh NGOs came forward with appeals. Within what period did you hold several meetings in Iran? How do you think, is it enough that had been done or it is necessary to undertake more serious steps in future?
- First of all, I’m satisfied with Talyshes in Iran. Because, didn’t see a single Talysh that was indifferent to this tragedy. They consider that this tragedy took a political overtone, and this is a repression, genocide directed against the Talysh people. This is because; N.Mammadov was a Teacher of this nation.
I want to express my gratitude to the chairman of the Talysh Cultural Center of Tehran "TalyshiKa” ("The House of Talysh”), my colleague, professor of the Tehran Polytechnic University T.Nizami, to the leaders of Talysh communities headed of my close friends Ali Abdoli and Faramaz Masrura, particularly to you – Shakhram Azmode, to the head of the Talysh Youth Organization and many others for spreading the appeal of protest to all over the world just from beginning of the tragic death of N.Mammadov.
Really, it’s a tragedy, a crime committed against our people. And one of its goals is to weaken the relation between our people separated by the boarder.
However, I want to bring to the notice of Talysh and Your readers some reproof suggestions: They should not consider that their mission ended and should only consists of making appeals and protest action in front of the Embassy of Azerbaijan in Tehran. You shouldn’t be afraid of appealing about the related issue to and demand from your religious authority, president and other government officials. As N.Mammadov’s arrest and death is directly linked to country! On the other hand, unlike us, the Talysh in your country have more opportunities, as almost every year they held republican and international scientific and cultural conferences dedicated to Talysh language and culture, newspapers and magazines are issued, different programs are broadcasted on TV and radio in Talysh language everyday, hundreds of films are demonstrated in the international contests and etc… And, this is not the end yet… In the parliament of Iran where the deputies of Talysh origin are coming out with the proposal to establish a Talysh ostan (provice) in Iran and hold a referendum on this issue among the people. But in our country it’s not even impossible only to speak, but also it’s too dangerous for common people just to think about this, speaking about the deputies is far… For example, N.Mammadov was accused on the ground, as if under the direct instructions "of ETTELAT –the secret service of IRAN, he published an article with topic on Talysh nation in the newspaper of "Talysh Sado” and which was considered as an attempt to allegedly giving birth to an ideology of establishing Talysh autonomy in future”. And even the name of the "counterspy” (special agent) who gave instructions is known: it turned out that he was Ali Abdoli- a famous scientist and Talysh learner. In Iran when people hear this they all say with laughter: "Poor Abdoli, in Iran he is considered as the "agent” of KGB, but there ( In Azerbaijan) the agent of "ETTELAT”. But in essence, like dervish he "has neither horse nor home…” wandering here and there.
In the court I asked E.Guliyev that "how he could prove Ali Abdoli’s being the agent of ETTELAT?”, he answered: "because he had two wives!”. On hearing this answer even the judge and the prosecutor laughed at this irrefutable fact.
Therefore, you have the opportunity and are due to take the advantages of all the opportunities that are given to you. For example, dedicating the next scientific conference to N.Mammadov’s or to his scientific activity. I appeal you and it is time to shift our activity from the sincere words-slogans "jan!-jan!” or "be chesh!-be chesh!” (With great pleasure), that is inherited by (peculiar) ancient Iranian culture as an ethic norms, into more practical activity. For the sake of God, I beg your pardon if my words hurt any of you and your readers…
- Doctor, we thank you for your time that you dedicated to us. Please, after going back to Baku extend our deep condolences to the spouse, family, natives and other closest relatives of N. Mammadov on behalf of the authority and staff members of the magazine of "Talysh”. Would you like to add anything to what has been said?
-Thanks a lot, I’ll do…
The tragedy of N.Mammadov-is not the tragedy of one family or people. It’s the tragedy of all the nations and humanity. May the Almighty God punish the true spies-"spies of the devil”, that violate the rights of the nations, tries to annihilate them and make them ageist each other. May He grant all the nations happiness and love to neighbors.
Dear Shahram boli (i.e.brother), special thanks to you and your courageous staff members of the magazine of "Talysh” I want to wish health and success in your future activity. May peace be upon all of you! God for you!
Interview by: Shahram Azmoda, editor-in-chief of the journal "Talysh”.
Photo: Ramin Akramini
Translated from Persian into Russian and Turkish by: Ruhangiz Azimi and Keyserovskaya Jamila
(Possible stylistic mistakes are available because of not being translated from the origin.)