We, the Azerbaijani-American community from Iran, request that the Obama administration recognize that the Islamic Republic of Iran consistently violates the fundamental human rights of Iran's Azerbaijani ethnic minority and those of the other ethnic minorities of Iran. The IRI refuses to grant the Azerbaijanis of Iran the basic rights of free access to education in their mother tongue, free and independent media in the Azerbaijani-Turkic language, and free practice of their culture. Activists who have tried to raise awareness of these issues have been abducted, handed disproportionately heavy prison sentences, tortured in prison, and even murdered. We request that the Obama administration include the plight of the Azerbaijani ethnic minority within the discourse on Iran.
Response to Petition
The United States is deeply troubled by human rights abuses committed by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, including its discriminatory practices against members of the country’s ethnic populations, including Azerbaijanis, Baluchis, Kurds, and Arabs. Iranian authorities routinely deny their citizens universal human rights through harassment, intimidation, detention, or violence – actions that often violate Iran’s own laws and international obligations.
The United States uses several methods to hold Iranian officials accountable for their actions, support human rights defenders and civil society, and raise international awareness about abuses inside Iran. The White House and the Department of State have on numerous occasions condemned the Iranian government’s mistreatment of ethnic and religious minorities. In addition, since 2010 the United States has imposed sanctions on dozens of Iranian government officials and institutions for their role in facilitating human rights abuses. These efforts have prevented the worst abusers from traveling to the United States, blocked their assets subject to U.S. jurisdiction, and raised awareness in the international community about the scope of their actions.
The United States also works with its international partners on the issue of human rights in Iran. For 10 consecutive years, the United States has supported a successful resolution at the UN General Assembly that condemns Iran’s human rights practices. In 2011, the United States supported the creation at the UN Human Rights Council of a Special Rapporteur to investigate the human rights situation in Iran as well as the Council’s extension of the Special Rapporteur’s mandate in 2012 and 2013. We will continue supporting such initiatives to broaden international support against Iran’s ongoing repression, attempts to stifle freedom of expression, and denial of other human rights of its citizens.
We remain committed to helping the Iranian people, regardless of religion, ethnicity, or political affiliation, to hold their government accountable and enjoy the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms they deserve.