Adding Fuel to Fire or Paving the Way for Peace? Human Rights Post-Iranian Nuclear Deal


On the occasion of the 30th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO),

the Southern Azerbaijan Alliance and the Nonviolent Radical Party, is convening a side-event entitled “Adding Fuel to Fire or Paving the Way for Peace? Human Rights Post-Iranian Nuclear Deal?” to address the growing scepticism as to how Iran’s ethnic and linguistic minority communities, in particular Southern Azerbaijani Turks, will fare following the signing of a historic nuclear deal between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the world’s leading powers after nearly 12 years of stand-off. The event will take place in room XXII, Palais des Nations, Geneva, on 21 September 2015, from 14:00 to 16:00.


The event will bring together representatives of Southern Azerbaijani Turks, Kurds, Baloch and Ahwazi Arabs, alongside experts and academics to further shed light on the ongoing human rights double standards, despite decades of international attention and prioritization of security and geopolitical concerns. Iran, with a population of roughly 80 million, is a land of diverse ethnicities and distinct nations, systematically neglected and deprived of fundamental civil liberties, social, economic and cultural rights, while peaceful dissidents and human rights activists are continually targeted by the central government under the guise of ‘national security concerns’ - a rarely disputed alibi for discrimination. Though the lifting of crippling economic sanctions will certainly ease the burden on Iran's poorest communities, some fear that Rouhani's new status as an ally of the West, may allow him to escape scrutiny over his human rights record.


The side-event will particularly emphasize the predicament of Azerbaijani Turks, a deliberately marginalized ethnic nationality, who not only face political pressure, but also a gradual, yet devastating deterioration of linguistic and cultural rights. Speakers will challenge the passivity of key international policy-makers in addressing Iran’s disregard for the human rights of Azerbaijani Turks, its largest ethnic nation, from their freedom of expression to freedom of assembly. The human rights situation of Azerbaijani Turks is further aggravated in the context of the rapidly disappearing Lake Urmia due to Tehran’s ecological mismanagement and negligence, which stands to devastate and displace populations in the wider region.


The side-event will create a platform for discussing constructive strategies for ways forward with the objective of advancing a human rights agenda with Iran and putting an end to the systematic persecution of minorities in the country. The accord, which will prevent Iran from producing material for developing nuclear weapons in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions, is a long-awaited and unquestionable achievement; however, it will not yield long-term stability unless promptly followed by dialogue in other areas, most notably in the area of human rights.


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Opening remarks:

Nasser Boladai, UNPO President

Panel I:

Mr Hillel Neuer, Executive Director of UN Watch

Ms Aida Karimli, Spokesperson of Southern Azerbaijan Alliance

Mr Adam Koniuszewski, Chief Operating Officer of Green Cross International

Panel II:

Mr Sabir Rustemxanli, Member of National Assembly of Republic of Azerbaijan

Mr Karim Almoor, Member of Ahwazi Coalition

Mr Eldar Bagirzade, Youth Representative of Southern Azerbaijan Alliance

Mr Mahmoud Bilgin, Spokesperson of South Azerbaijan Democratic Party