Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by The Congress of Iranian Nationalities for a Federal Iran, The largest coalition of Iran



  United Nations has 191 members. 179 of them are multinational countries. At the top of the multinational countries is India with 1,300 nationalities. Only 12 countries have nearly one nation. Iran is among top ten multinational countries with seven major distinct nations of Baluch, Turk, Kurd, Arab, Lor, Turkmen and Fars and a few smaller nationalities.

  Iran has a population of 70 million. 25-30% of them are Sunnis; that means a population of 18-20 million. Iran has 30 provinces. Eight of them are dominated by Sunnis and 17 of them are dominated by the Iranian nationalities. Other provinces are mixed.

  The population of nationalities: Turks about 25 million, Kurds about seven million, Arabs about four million, Baluch about three million, Lors, about four million, Turkmens about three millions and Taleshi one million. Other nationalities like Armenians, Assyrians, Zoroastrians, Hazaras, Jews, Christians and Bahaees . . . are about one million.

  Total population of Iranian nationalities is about 48 million. The Farsi community constitutes therefore 22 millions.

  After the emergence of Islam, the Farsi community has ruled Iran only for 75 years. Iran has been ruled by other nations for most of its history. The Arabs ruled Iran for nearly 650 years, the Baloch, Turks, Mongols and Lors ruled Iran for the rest of its Islamic history until 1923.

  Iran always had a federal structure in all its history except for the last 80 years. It also was part of an empire and the empires always had federal structures.

  During its history Iran has been always a multiracial, multinational, multi-religion, multilingual and multi-government empire with an Emperor at the top. There were many nations, kingdoms, religions, languages, rulers and civilisations in it that lived together maintaining their own identity and autonomy. Whenever the central government declined, one nation from one quarter of the empire occupied the capital and seized the power.

  After the advent of Islam, Iran was a Sunni country until the emergence of Safavid dynasty in 1501. The Shia Safavid dynasty and other rulers that followed them began converting Sunnis into Shia using maximum force. The pressure for converting to Shiism and despising Sunnism was so severe that present lands of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Caucasia and the central republics of Asia began to secede from Iran gradually until it became as small as it is now.

    Three million square kilometre of Iranian soil seceded because they were not ready to become Shia. The situation is the same today.

  After centuries of forceful conversion, still eight provinces of Iran are dominated by Sunnis. There are about one million Sunnis only in Tehran now.

  Turkish, Kurdish, Arab, Baluchi and Turkmenian communities have their own communities on the other side of the borders in Iraq, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Some of these communities outside Iran have their own independent countries like Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan or federal states like Kurdistan and Balochistan.

Centralisation, reason for breaking up of countries

  The main reason for breaking up of countries like the Soviet Union, Pakistan, Indonesia and Yugoslavia was the repressive centralised systems in which all the decisions were made only by one small group and one nationality at the cost of other nationalities and political figures.

Federal structure as the solution

  Now a federal structure has become a useful solution for the survival of multinational countries. Centralisation is giving way to devolution and federalism. United Kingdom allowed Scotland, Wales and Ireland to establish their own autonomous governments to reduce the pressure for independence.

Iran as a multinational country

  Those multinational countries which have adopted a genuine federal structure did not encounter major secessionist movements. Those which have adopted centralised systems are facing severe problems. Iran is one of them.

The present situation in Iran

  Iran has a very centralised government takes all major and major decisions in Tehran. It has full control over military, political, economic, cultural, and social resources. The provinces have no any power and provincial governors are appointed. The government is controlled by a small number of Shia fanatic clergy. The system has the following characteristics:

    1.  About 70% of Iranian population is none- Farsi-speaking and they have been severely oppressed by the Iranian regime.

    2.  The Sunni population of Iran which is about 28 million has been completely deprived of human rights, political power and economic concessions.

    3.  The 16 provinces that belong to Iranian nationalities have been deliberately kept backwards to keep their people helpless and poor.

    4.  All the decisions are taken in Tehran and different cities and provinces have no any kind of share in power or decisions although there are nominal city councils.

    5.  All employees are appointed from Tehran and therefore, members of Iranian nationalities are excluded from assuming high positions.

    6.  Allocation of jobs are only limited to Shia fanatics that support the government.

    7.  Development budgets for ethnic provinces are very limited.

    8.  The pressure for converting Sunnis into Shia is growing and the Sunnis are reacting very strongly.

    9.  Persianisation is the official policy of the government which has created enormous discord among the people.

    10.  Ethnic cleansing is implemented in various provinces.

    11.  Commercial licences are granted to Shia supporters of the government and Sunnis are completely excluded.

    12.  There has not been even one president, Prime Minister, ministers, deputy minister, ambassador, general, managing director from the Sunnis in the last 30 years.

    13.  Educational discrimination is rampant. For example, from 700 academic staff of Baluchistan universities, only ten of them are Baluch. From 70 thousand university students in Baluchistan province, even one thousand of them are not Baluch.

    14.  Sunni provinces are among the poorest. Baluchistan is the poorest province of Iran.

    15.  The life expectancy in Baluchistan is ten years lower than the national average.

    16.  Unemployment rate in Baluchistan and other nationalities provinces is double than the average rate. Unemployment in some parts of Baluchistan is about 70%.

    17.  While the government refuses to create jobs for the Baluchi people and other Iranian nationalities, they are trying to seal off the Borders which are the only sources of trading in Baluchistan, Khozistan, Kurdistan, Azerbajian, Korasan and Turkeman Sahra.

    18.  Amnesty International published a report in Baluchistan which documented the violations of human rights in the most inhuman way. It is attached.

    19.  These circumstances have made life extremely difficult for the majority of Iranian people. The pressure on the Sunnis and ethnic minorities is growing in a way that present circumstances of Iran resemble the circumstances of Yugoslavia some time ago. If the present pressures are not removed completely, there is a danger that Iran may break up.


    1.  The Congress of Iranian Nationalities for a Federal Iran is the largest coalition outside Iran. It represents the majority of people. International community must support this organization as the representative of the majority of people in Iran.

    2.  The Farsi community has refused to form their own coalition and it seems that they will not be united in future. International community has counted on the Farsi community for bringing changes; but they have failed and they will fail in future and therefore, the international community must support The Congress of Iranian Nationalities for a Federal Iran.

    3.  The Iranian regime is very vulnerable and could be changed through Iranian nationalities.

    4.  Those that support the present regime at all cost will face the anger of the Iranian people.

    5.  Those who are interested in the territorial integrity of Iran must also be interested in equal opportunity for all Iranians and therefore, they have to work to create an environment in Iran in which all the Iranian people and nationalities enjoy equal rights.

    6.  A federal structure for Iran is the only structure that guarantees democracy and the integrity of the country.

    7.  Terrorism and fundamentalism will not stop in the world until the present regime of Iran is changed and therefore, we recommend that instead of changing the behaviour of the regime, the international community must support the people to change this regime.

  The Congress of Iranian Nationalities for a Federal Iran is determined to establish a secular, democratic and federal system in Iran to prevent the possibility of any dictatorship to be established in future. We ask international community to support us in this purpose which will secure the safety and security in your countries.

  The Congress will uproot terrorism in Iran and will cooperate closely with other countries to destroy it.

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2008
Prepared 2 March 2008