“The Jews have an obligation to the Azeris in Iran”

The Jewish community in Azerbaijan has expressed deep satisfaction with the exceptional dialogue that took place at the international summit at the European Parliament, which dealt with Iran’s conduct towards minority groups residing in the country, primarily towards the Azeri community.

“The Jews were persecuted for many years and we know well how it feels,” stated Rabbi Zamir Isayev, rabbi of the Georgian Sephardic community in Azerbaijan. We, specifically, are obligated more than anyone towards the Azeri nation that suffers from ongoing oppression.”

Rabbi Isayev added, “We will raise the matter at every international forum, if we can. The matter of Iran’s oppression of the Azeri minority has to be at the top of the world public agenda.”

The European Parliament’s international summit was organized by activists of the Azeri Telegram channel, AZFRONT, and the EPP (European People’s Party), a long-standing party and the largest in the European parliament.

Those in attendance included six members of the European parliament and five senior speakers, as well as representatives of human rights organisations, and analysts and experts on Iran from France, Belgium, and Israel.

The dialogue was moderated by Manel Msalmi, international affairs advisor at parliament, and expert on Iran, who launched the talks by emphasizing the topic of minority groups in Iran and the struggle of the Ahwazi Arabs, Kurds, Baluchis, Azeris, and Turks and their struggle for equal rights that spans several decades.

Likewise, Msalmi elaborated on the need to raise the matter at the European and international levels, particularly at this time - approximately ten months following the death of Mahsa Amini and the ongoing demonstrations throughout the word in support of women and youth in Iran.

The keynote address was delivered by Member of Parliament Francesca Donato, in which she placed emphasis on the role played by the European Union in support of democracy, equality, and ethnic freedom in Iran and the Middle East to ensure rights for women and minority groups in Iran.

During the course of the summit, a film was screened in which the editor of the AZFRONT channel in Tabriz, shares witness accounts of language and cultural discrimination experienced by Azeris, as well as discrimination in business and economic activity, and the forced wearing of the hijab.

Thereafter, orientalist Dr Mordechai Kedar took the stage and described the horrors of the regime in relation to women and minorities, which have been experienced by the Azeris, Arabs, Kurds, and Baluchis for decades. Kedar spoke of how they have been denied basic civil rights and subjected to social, cultural, and economic discrimination.

Thierry Vallet, president of Cap Liberté de Conscience, discussed the state of religious freedom in Iran, especially the discrimination and persecution suffered by religious minorities. He cited the plight of the Bahá’í community, which recently commemorated 40 years since the execution of ten women on 18th June, 1983, after they refused to renounce their faith. Similarly, he recounted the lesser-known plight of the members of the Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light, that has suffered from brutal religious oppression at the hands of the state.

Claude Monique, journalist and former French intelligence agent, and joint director of the European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center (ESISC), stressed the oppression of women and minorities as a distinctive characteristic of the Iranian regime. He clarified that the regime is recognized as a terror regime that utilizes the hostage policy. He said that approximately 360 executions occur each year, which include those of minority members. In addition, there are incidents of opponents of the government being killed outside Iran on European soil.

At the gathering, European Member of Parliament, Salvatore de Meo, pointed out the importance that the European Union assigns to minority groups and the international community’s obligation to support Iranians, including non-Persian populations, such as the Azeris, to facilitate their freedom and equality. He stated that “The EU must be prepared to help everyone, no matter their religious or cultural affiliation.”

Member of Parliament, Matteo Adinolfi, focused on the need to put an end to discrimination in education and culture: “Minority groups in Iran should have the right to learn their own language and celebrate their cultural heritage as they wish,” he said.

Member of Parliament, Lucia Vuolo, called attention to the significance of religious freedom and cultural identity, and the need to eradicate violence against minority groups, especially the Iranian Azeris, and to demonstrate solidarity with women and youth in Iran.

Member of Parliament, Gianna Gancia, who has worked to assist opponents of the Iranian regime for many years, primarily women and members of persecuted minorities, pointed out that the European Union is committed to protecting vulnerable groups and to assist refugees fleeing dictatorship and persecution.

Andy Vermaut, president of Post Versa, emphasized that “We have an important duty. We carry the responsibility for the Iranian nation that has endured so much. Let us be a beacon of hope and strength for positive change.”