The Iranian government’s recent restrictions on the use of minority languages are in clear violation of the constitution, says the country’s opposition Green Movement.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Coordination Council of the Green Path of Hope, an important body within the movement, voiced its criticism of government measures aimed at curbing the use of Kurdish in the Province of Kermanshah.
The statement, which addresses the Iranian people, is in response to a leaked Education Ministry letter that calls on teachers to refrain from using any language other than Persian at schools in Kermanshah Province, where the majority of the population speak Kurdish. The letter, which is dated 29 December 2012 and marked “confidential,” is signed by Jalal Amini, the head of Education Ministry’s Kermanshah bureau.
The Coordination Council said that the move was a clear breach of the Iranian constitution’s Article 15, which designates Persian as the “official and shared language of Iran,” but at the same time allows for the use of local languages in press, media the education system.
The Council called the Education Ministry’s move “provocative” and went on to add: “This is despite the fact that preserving and strengthening the security and national unity of the country and [its] territorial integrity necessitate the realisation of the fundamental rights of all citizens, while identifying and guaranteeing the rights of all ethnic, linguistic and religious minorities.”
“Such actions are against human rights norms, the articles of the constitution, the country’s international obligations, and the will of the majority of Iranians from all ethnicities, languages and religions,” the statement continued.
Such actions, the Council members argue, ultimately weaken solidarity, national unity and the country’s national interests.
According to a 2010 report by the International Federation for Human Rights, Iranian Kurds suffer from discrimination and their plight has not improved since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
They have suffered harsh political oppression throughout their struggle for their rights and have been denied their political, economic and cultural rights, including their right to use their own language. For Sunni Kurds, their right to freedom of religion has also been violated ever since the revolution.
Despite some improvements in Kurdish rights during the presidency of Mohammad Khatami, the ascent to power of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005 saw a further suppression of Kurdish rights.