Oral Statement of Centre Zagros, 12th session of the Forum on minority issues in Geneva, Item 3

Oral Statement of Centre Zagros pour les Droits de l’Homme (Zagros Human Rights Center), Mr. Baban ELIASSI
12th session of the Forum on minority issues in Geneva,
28 November 2019
Item 3: Public policy objectives for education in, and the teaching of, minority languages

Madam Chair,

Iran is one of the most diverse countries in the Middle East. It is a multinational, multilingual and multicultural state composed of at least six major nationalities, including Arabs, Baluchi, Kurds, Persians, Turks, Turkmens and other ethnic and linguistic groups.
No ethnic group has a numerical majority. Yet only the Persian national group dominates Iranian society and the Persian language is the only official language of the country. While non-dominant and non-Persian ethnic groups account for about 60-65% of the population, these groups have not been granted equal citizenship and their language and ethnicity are not officially recognized.

Unlike all its national and international obligations, the policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran are based on the elimination of the cultural and linguistic characteristics of non-Persian groups in the country.

The principles set out in the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities are quite clear and the member states of the United Nations, including Iran, must respect them.

The Zagros Center calls on the Iranian government to put an end to the policy of assimilation and dissolution of different identities in the country. The right to be different must be recognized.

The Iranian government must make changes to the country’s constitution to recognize and guarantee the rights of national groups and ethnic and linguistic minorities.

Thank you