Re: OPEN LETTER
I would like to kindly address you on behalf of our 30 million Southern Azerbaijanis, systematically deprived of the most basic rights, the right for education in mother tongue. Here, I am providing you with the translation of a text written by a political prisoner eliciting the survival of the mother tongue of this helpless nation being attacked by Iranian chauvinism in this day and age. It is high time to address the ongoing inhumane treatments and say, enough is enough.
Democratic countries have set their agenda in terms of planning for improved quality of life. This commendable mission may be contrasted by our issue in terms of the survival of our mother tongue in Southern Azerbaijan and speak out for being deprived of education in our mother tongue. The contrast is simply true, even if it seems incredible. I provide you one piece of evidence written by Mr. Hidayet ZAKIR, a prisoner of conscience, who champions the cause for our mother tongue from Tabriz Prison, by supporting the struggle which was initiated by a 6 year old child from Qoshachay. If you are still reserved, I challenge you to find for yourselves by meeting our people in Southern Azerbaijan or visiting our youths in their prison cells for simply expressing their allegiance to our mother tongue.
If conscientious, why not to ask questions or speak out against this brutish shut down of our mother tongue in the 21st century, a lively language that is naturally articulate to international standards and perfect for us. Perhaps, conscientious soles may still be found in Iranian ruling echelons but the official line holds that Southern Azerbaijanis apparently disown their Azerbaijani identity; but in reality they burden their impoverished soles with their own misinformation.
This disinformation is, in itself, indicative of the excesses of the abuse against our nation to the point that some have submitted to it and given up the struggle. However, we believe that after 80 years of being trapped in the network of assimilation, our nation has woken up and have uncovered the rotten foundation of the ongoing assimilation.
For the mission of the survival of our language, here you are witnessing our youth striving even from prison to expose the ongoing waves of repression. He is relentless despite iron fists and vicious conditions. Let us rally behind him for championing the just cause of demanding the reinstatement of the status of mother tongues. Let us speak out.
I foresee the date at which our nation too will join the world community of nations and embrace liberty. We hope to enjoy your support as conscientious individuals or organizations. I also see the day when the silent but conscientious soles will realize that their silence was inexplicable.
A FEW WORDS ON THE CONTEXT OF THE ATTACHED TEXT
Qoshachay is the name of a Southern Azerbaijani city related to the attached "versed-prose" text by Mr. Hidayet ZAKIR addressing a seven year old Azerbaijani child, Mehran Rehimi, who lives in his native city, Qoshachay. This child was beaten up last year in autumn by his teacher when starting his primary school and was forced to speak in Persian. Of course it is quite typical to intimidate children by various means including beating to make them speak in Persian. In this occasion the various websites and the newly established Southern Azerbaijan television (GünAzTV) orchestrated a campaign and at last one instance of such chronic wrongdoings was exposed.
The word Qosha-chay means parallel rivers and ironically the attached text is the dialogue of parallels between a "linguistically jailed child" and a "jailed teacher prisoner of conscience."
In the translation, you will come across a number of Azerbaijani words and two Persian words. These words and their translations are entered in italic.
Ana = mother; anadili = mother tongue; anayurdu = fatherland; ata = father; çay = river; çörək = bread (You will see that when the text uses the Persian word “nan”, it emphasizes its coercive sense.);
Dəniz = sea; su = water (You will see that when the text uses the Persian word “ab”, it emphasizes its coercive sense).
My Dear, Mehran, Please Forgive Me
(A Versed-Prose - Translation)
My dear Mehran, your wish was to study in your mother tongue from the very minute you walked into school. You liked to learn reading and writing in your mother tongue. You wanted to think in and develop through your mother tongue.
Your wish was to see mother (ana) in the first pages of the first book and this followed by father (ata) and then bread (çörək), water (su) and then learn to write with your delicate hands: My language is Turkic and I love my language.
How joyful were you when you opened the door and entered school?
How dear were your wishes when you walked into the primary school?
You looked at water flowing out of the tap and wondered:
How you would be going to write water (su)?
You know well that water (su) is the wellspring of happiness and prosperity, or you know that it forms rivers (çay) and seas (dəniz).
Besides, water (su) irrigates saplings and trees, makes fruits and crops grow and quenches thirsty travelers.
So, you would want to know how to write water (su).
Then mother (ana):
You have developed the love for mothers (ana), as worthy of a son like you. As you speak of mother (ana) you know always what is in your mind. So, you are eager to learn the word mother (ana).
This explains why:
If you could learn the reading and writing of the word mother (ana), you could then learn your roots and then you would know your mother tongue (anadili) and then read the written texts of your motherland (anayurdu). You could then write about images of your feelings.
Imagine: your heart and thoughts would be filled with the love of mother (ana), mother tongue (anadili), motherland (anayurdu).
But pity, how your sincere wishes were dashed by gustily storms!
In your first day in school!
Your innocent world was dashed!
What a dark day was it?
That evil teacher dared to force you to spell out ab instead of water (su)!
What went through your mind then?
Perhaps, despair swept into your heart;
Then the daring hands of that evil teacher delivered a blow to your rosy cheeks!
Together with your cheeks turning red, your heart broke as the thunder broke!
O my dear, o my dear.
Mehran: But I want to be able to write water (su), and then bread (çörək), or mother (ana) or father (ata).
Teacher: Truth is what I tell you. From now on you will say, ab nan (water - su, bread - çörək).
You will say ab (water - su); you will write ab (water - su); and you will think ab (water - su).
Then he had another go against Mehran's rosy cheek!
O my dear Mehran, what went through your mind when they broke your heart!
My dear Mehran, when I received this news, all of sudden I hated myself!
My teaching profession shamed me and my head turned round me.
Dear Mehran, you are the Babek of the future, so can you forgive me?
As I too collaborate with such teachers!
It is true that teachers like me are under duress and therefore are committing many wrongs but please do not regard them all the same.
There are teachers for whom teaching in mother tongue is a sacred aim.
My dear Mehran: My request from you is that you remain hopeful for the future and have faith that the future is with us and us as well as all the Turkic Azerbaijani children will read and write in our mother tongue.
My dear Mehran: I am writing this letter from Tabriz Prison.
I promise, as soon as I am released from the jail I will come to Qoshachay to meet you.
Would you kindly admit me?
I will come to Qoshachay to bless you with my heart and comfort you.
But my dear Mehran, do please forgive me in advance.
5th January 2006
Dedicated to Mehran Rehimi from Qoshachay