The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1999 declared February 21, as the International Mother Language Day.
In the same year, at the 30th session of UNESCO, the Iranian regime voted in favor of naming the day.
Apart from Persian, people in different parts of Iran speak Azeri, Kurdish, Arabic, Turkmen, Gilaki, Mazandarani, Taleshi, Lori, Baluchi, Laki and Tati.
According to Article 15 of Iran’s Constitution, the official and common language and script of the Iranian people is Persian.
Article 15 of the Constitution states: ” Persian is the official and common language and script of the people of Iran. The documents, correspondence, official texts, and schoolbooks must all be in this language and script. However, use of regional and ethnic languages in the press, the mass media, and the teaching of their literature at schools, alongside the Persian language, is freely permitted.”
The article however is not observed.
The Iranian regime restricts cultural and political activities among the country’s Azeri, Kurdish, Arab, and Baluch ethnic minorities.
Several activists have been detained for taking part in peaceful cultural gatherings.
Barriers of learning the mother language in Iran
Due to the government’s discriminatory policies, children of ethnic minorities are deprived of learning their mother tongue.
Article 15 of the Constitution mentions the free teaching of ethnic languages and literature at the school level, but despite the importance of language and culture in the international community, no effective action has been taken to teach ethnic languages and literature in the country’s schools.
Last year, the regime’s judicial authorities sealed the offices of ‘Tak Takhtar’ and ‘Andisheh No,’ both publishers of Turkish-language books in Tehran.
In recent years, some teachers who teach their mother tongue to children have been arrested, tortured and sentenced to long prison terms by the regime.
Iranian teachers who teach their mother tongue have been arrested, tortured and sentenced to long prison terms by the regime.
Kurdish civil society activist Zahra Mohammadi, 30, has been charged with national security offences for her peaceful activities empowering members of Iran’s marginalized Kurdish community, including through teaching the Kurdish language.
During her detention, Intelligence agents made her sign false confessions against herself, by threatening her to arrest her family members. Ms. Mohammadi did not have access to her lawyer until the end of her interrogations.
Zahra Mohmmmadi is the director of the Nojin Cultural Association, whose activities include teaching the Kurdish language and literature and other civil society activities.
Ethnic minorities forced to give their children Persian names
Iran’s Registry Office acts on the basis of a book prepared by the government and parents from ethnic minority groups are forced to choose a name from the book for their children.
Restrictions enforced in the book deprive many citizens, of naming their children based on their religious, ethnic, or cultural identities.
In several cases, it has been reported that the Registry Office has refused to issue a birth certificate for newborns on the pretext that the name is not Persian.
Names such as “Anar”, “Seogi”, “Ayeel”, “Aisha”, “Hontai”, “Atakan” and “Yagish” have been opposed by the Registry Office, and the officials have informed the parents that they must choose other names which are approved by three Persian language teachers.
This is while according to Article 7 of The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child: “The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and. as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents.”
Suppression ethnic minority rights activists
Coinciding with World Mother Language Day in Iran, many ethnic minority rights activists have criticized the government’s discriminatory policies regarding the use of mother language in Iran.
Minority advocacy activities include distributing textbooks in the mother tongue to schoolchildren, signing petitions to present minority language and literature at the university, or publishing and distributing leaflets throughout the city.
these peaceful activities however were met with arrest and heavy prison sentences.
Behnam Sheikhi, Hamid Manafi, Alireza Farshi and Akbar Azad are among the activists who were arrested for participating in the celebration of the International Mother Language Day. They are currently being held in notorious Evin Prison.
Kianoosh Aslani and Tohid Amiramini were arrested during the street activities of the International Mother Language Day in Tehran. They were sentenced to a total of 12 years and six months in prison on charges of “conspiracy to disrupt national security” and “propaganda activities against the regime.”