By Manel Msalmi, Brussels
On Tuesday October 20th ,an international conference entitled “Oppressed Populations and Violence against Civilians “organized by the World Solidarity Forum with a panel of three speakers:Hacer Z.Gonul ,a researcher in ULB specialed on East Asian studies ,Andy Vermaut ,a human rights activist and member of the international Alliance for the Defense of Rights and Freedoms and Manel Msalmi an Advisor on MENA to Meps and president of the European Association for The Defense of Minorities.
The conference starts with Hacer’s speech and a mapping of the Chinese history and society mainly after the Post Soviet Era and the Uyghurs ‘protest against the chinese government. There was a Chinese campaign against separatism in 1997 and against any illegal religious activities. The Chinese response to 9/11 was by creating “China Dream “which doesn’t embrace diversity “Practicing Islam is a sign of extremism “.Today there is one million of Uyghurs in camps .The Ughur language is banned in schools ,more than 1000 mosques are destroyed by the Chinese government. There is forced child labor among this minority and there is a demonization of Islam.
Andy Vermaut speaking about the Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict points out that “ if we see the re-escalation of a conflict that has been going on and off for decades. Armenia and Azerbaijan have been fighting already for 32 years regarding landownership. Everyone in the world knows what is happening there and we all see the images of fragile children who were bombed as it is their war”,
He explains that “There is a stand still and a dead end situation now for the people living there and now there is a possibility that world powers could be plunged into this dispute, which has already resulted in hundreds of deaths on the ground and the real casualties will have to be found out by critical historians. There is a decades-old struggle between Azerbaijan and Armenia. The conflict is reburning as never before. The roots of the war today started just 100 years ago. When the Russian province of Transcaucasia was divided up along ethnic lines in the 1920s the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, populated by Armenians, was given to Azerbaijan by way of a compromise, with a guarantee of regional Armenian government.
He believes that “Life in Nagorno-Karabakh is never the same anymore after weeks of air raids, sirens of war, Turkish wardrones bringing hell on earth and the almost continuous bombing between Armenia and Azerbaijan. These two countries are fighting a large-scale war along the borders of the contested region. Now this conflict is becoming a major international crisis where there is no end in sight for the stopping of the fight”.The mountainous area was afterwards again claimed by both Armenians and Azerbaijanis as the Soviet Union dissolved in the late 1980s when ethnic Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh tried to join the independent Armenian state.He also mentioned that
“The war killed more than 20,000 civilians and displaced hundreds of thousands in spite of the cease-fire negotiated by Russia in 1994. The Nagorno-Karabakh dispute has never been settled. It is now inhabited and controlled by Armenians, but it is still officially recognised as Azerbaijani territory, but for 30 years the dispute has flared up again and again for a while of time, but there has been no such big battle since the 1990s as now today. Azerbaijan announced a major offensive and said it aimed to force Armenia to withdraw fully from Nagorno-Karabakh. This is frightning, because it’s a very wide size conflict that we’ve never seen refiring since 1994 as today”
He thinks that There is a large solidarity of the Armeninan diaspora regarding the violence so far mainly limited to the Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding regions, but Azerbaijan keeps on bombing. The children and people there are living in inhuman conditions and are often sleeping in the same bed as their parents, so they can leave together when the bombing start or even die together when the bombing hits their house. Some of these even young people have seen war for the second time in there live and only have one appeal to us all, to stop the war right now, to stay alive and live in peace together.
But he also mentioned a very important element in war, Turkey which explicitly supports Azerbaijan even more strongly than in the past. Syrian fighters from Turkish-backed Rebel groups are now apparently being sent to Azerbaijan to fight against the Christian people. Turkey, and Azerbaijan are denying this, but even in the refugee camps in Northern Syria, Fighters told the international community that they had been sent and payed by Turkey.The Turkish government, asking the Free Syrian Army to intervene against Armenian people in Azerbaijan. These people receive a paycheck between 1,300 and $1,800 to kill Armenian people.
It is important to overcome this dispute by dialogue between Azerbaijan and Armenia. All military action has to stop immediately while the negotiating process can restart. Military provocations can never stop this conflict, only international law can and therefore the mutual trust between the two parties has to come back, and this can only begin when ceasefires are respected by both sides. Both parties have to re-establish all their trust to the Minsk-group. The Minsk Group, the activities of which have become known as the Minsk Process, leads the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. It is co-chaired by France, the Russian Federation, and the United States.It’s time to work also on a political solution with maybe a good organised confederal model to make the future of the Armenian people in peaceful. We should construct history. By bringing together the peoples, we can make a difference. I believe in Nagorno-Karabakh where everybody will enjoy an integral existence, where we respect the living. To address the human rights issue there, we need to support the global people’s movement to wake up our so called leaders to act as real leaders who can end war, war crimes and human rights abuses.He finally ends his speech by a call “My mates, I appeal to you all, fighting a war is never the right answer, just peace is the solution”
Manel Msalmi started her speech by giving a bief description of the minorities in iran .Iran made up of different nations , Arabs , Turks , Baluchis , Kurds , Qashqayans and Persians , what makes the Persian the minority versus the mentioned nations .Mentioned nations are facing tremendous difficulties such as racism , and a complete poverty , prisons and torture , displacement and starvation , the regime of Iran will not and did not take into account the legal demands of the people , and it continues to oppress people and prevent them from achieving their humanitarian goals .
Therefore , the Ahwazi community calls the United Nations and the esteemed European governments to put pressure on the Iranian regime to stop torturing and the indiscriminate executions , there are Thousands of the peaceful demonstrators taken to prison and many of them were executed without trial .
The brutal Iranian regime is not respecting the international laws , crossed the red lines and still defiant to the international rules and regulations , hence we wish to take up the matter with your esteemed government to convey the people’s hardship to the international community .
12 Million Ahwazi Arabs are living in uncertainty , the regime of Iran is displacing the people , torturing them and executing them on regular basis , the Land of Al Ahwaz is known for its Oil and Gas and fertile land and considered to be one of the wealthiest lands of the Middle East , whereas our people are suffering from a complete poverty and live on less than half a dollar a day .
75% unemployment in Al Ahwaz makes life difficult and not tolerable , the people are forcibly displaced , to control their lands , hence the Ahwazi people are looking for political support to get rid of the brutal Iranian regime , They are certain that the European countries could play a crucial role in connection with this matter .
Thousands of our Ahwazi people been jailed and many of them were executed within the regime’s notorious prisons , however the Ahwazi people wish to emphasis that their struggle against the regime of Iran would be based on the international rule and regulation , thus the support of Ngo’s would enable them to achieve their humanitarian goals .
To conclude ,minorities in iran were the most vulnerable populations during the pandemic .The situation of women and children got worse especially in terms of gender equality and children’s rights. The manifestations were met with arrest violence shooting and death and we should be very careful to human rights conditions in Iran but more particularly to these fragile populations who are deprived of their basic rights such as food and water let alone education and job opportunities.