"OUR DIASPORA: YESTERDAY AND TODAY"
Dr. Javad Derahti
Chief of World Azeris' Congress
· Az · · Ru ·
- Dear Mr. Derahti, first, I would like you to give brief information about the World Azeris' Congress to our readers. When and for what purposes was WAC established?
In 1997, Azeris living in the US established the World Azeris' Congress. As an organization comprising our compatriots of various political views, the same year WAC organized its first congress in Los-Angeles. Despite of different opinion, approaches, obstacles, fair and unfair statements concerning WAC, for Azeris living in Azerbaijan and abroad, this organization created great hope and established initiative for joint activities towards resolution of various problems of Azerbaijan and Azeris. Consequently, Azeris from all over the world being invited or at their own initiative have participated at II Congress of WAC held in Washington. III Congress held in 1999 in Germany could bring together our compatriots with various political and non-political views, but always thinking of Azerbaijan, having their Motherland in their hearts. Despite all internal and external pressures, IV Congress held last year in French town of Strasbourg, ceased all contradictions between these forces and increased belief for continuation of WAC's activity, struggle for future welfare and prosperity of our common Motherland - Azerbaijan. At last, V Congress, held in Swedish town Malmö, created opportunities for deep relationships and cooperation between world Azeris.
During 5 years of its activity, WAC has resolved theoretical and conceptual issues and defined its primary goals, such as bringing together Azeris from all over the world and working for spreading a true information about Azerbaijan.
- How do you estimate contemporary Azeri migration? In your opinion, what are the main obstacles for establishing of national consciousness among Azeris living abroad? What issues should be considered as important in order to strengthen national consciousness among emigrants?
History of emigration
Emigration from Northern Azerbaijan started in the first decade of XX century as a result of anti-Turk and anti-Muslim policy of Tzarist Russia in Caucasus. In 1920's, with dissolution of the first independent Azerbaijan Republic many citizens, e.g. M.E.Rasulzade and his stalwarts, had to leave Azerbaijan. This emigration was in progress in 1930's and even after World War II. With collapse of Soviet Union and restoration of independence by Northern Azerbaijan a part of our compatriots has moved abroad seeking for better live conditions.
Majority of people constituting emigration from the Southern Azerbaijan (Iran Azerbaijan) was in opposition to shah regime. After Islam Revolution, as a result of slaughter, torment and political oppression hundred thousands citizens had to escape from their home. Size of southern emigration much more prevails over size of northern emigration of last decades.
According to approximate calculations, 45 million Azeris live in 70 countries of the world, including Azerbaijan, and millions of our compatriots live as emigrants far from the Motherland, historical and ethnic lands. Millions of Azeris from Western Azerbaijan towns of Irevan, Zangezur, Goyche etc. live in Turkey. Escaping from severe dashnak reaction started in the beginning of XX century, they found protection in sister nation's country.
Proclamation of independence of the Azerbaijan Republic revived Azeri Diaspora. Global events, Garabag conflict, groundless land claims, slaughter in Baku on January 20, 1990, in Khojali on February 26, 1992, occupation of 20% of our territory by Armenian armed forces, one million of IDPs and refugees, etc. have prompted public activation among Azeris living abroad.
A part of compatriots started national and cultural consolidation under new historical conditions. Now, there are more than 150 Azeri public, national and cultural societies and organizations functioning in more than 30 countries of the world. Prevailing of personal interests over national conception, weakness of national-political activity and strength of tendency towards economic interests, regional factors and communities, factors of weakness of relations between institutions create important barrier for progress in this process. Despite all above-mentioned, preservation of Azerbaijan's national independence, development of the national language and culture, protection of human and citizen rights, help to our independent state, provision of spiritual solidarity are main duties of each Azeri.
- What role could Azeris living abroad play in resolution of economic and cultural problems of our Motherland? In particular, does your organization have any concrete programme concerning this issue?
First, I have to say that according to the programme of WAC, duties of each WAC member are support to material and cultural interests of world Azeris living in Northern, Southern Azerbaijan or in other parts of the planet, activities towards prosperity of the Azeri people. There is an independent state in Northern Azerbaijan - the Azerbaijan Republic, here, internal and foreign policy is being implemented and regulated by the Constitution and under the President's leadership. Provision of development process is responsibility of the state. By its critical and propaganda policy, the congress follows the state policy; via members living in different parts of the world protects interests of the Azerbaijan Republic, expresses its protest against Armenian aggression. In a word, anyone standing for national interests of Azeri people and Azeri State is a member of WAC.
Regarding Southern Azerbaijan, the fact that more than 30 million Azeris do not have national rights is known to mass media. Articles of the constitution of the Iran Islam Republic, e.g. Article 15 - teaching of the Persian language along with national languages in schools, and Article 19 - inadmissibility of any discrimination among nationals living in Iran, are not followed there already for 23 years. Azeris does not have any national organization. There is no opportunity to teach Azeri language in schools. Main objective of WAC is restoration of human rights of Southern Azeris and protection of their national rights.
Protection of social and cultural rights of Azeris living in other countries of the world within the legislative frames of these countries is one of the objectives of the WAC.
- How do you se