Everyone in the Western societies has heard about the famous quote by the US president Ronald Regan on June 12, 1987 next to the Berlin Wall: “Mr. Garbachev Tear Down this Wall!” But not many are aware of another wall of separation erected by the Soviet to divide Azerbaijani nation. The border fence built between borders of the Soviet Union and Iran had separated many families for 70 years. The fence was demolished by Azerbaijani activists on December 31, 1989, two years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Since then, December 31st is celebrated by Azerbaijanis across the world as the day of solidarity. This radio program by Odlar Yurdu Azerbaijani Radio dedicated to World Solidarity Day of Azerbaijanis. Our guest is Ph.D. candidate at University of British Columbia, Sevinj Asgarova.
SIMILAR TO GERMANY, BORDER FENCE BUILT BY THE SOVIETS DIVIDED AZERBAIJANIS FOR MANY DECADES.
Azerbaijan was divided into two in 19th centry. Following the two Persio-Russian Wars, two treaties Turkmenchay and Gulustan has divided the nation. Many years, they lived in separation. Many families were split. Close relatives were no longer to see each other. Azerbaijanis lived in their motherland had not an opportunity to meet with their compatriots and to create the relations with them. Prohibitions of the Soviet Period created an obstacle between the relatives. Currently, more than 30 million ethnic Azerbaijanis live in Iran.
INSPIRED BY THE FALL OF THE BERLIN WALL, IN 1989 AZERBAIJANIS DEMOLISHED BORDER FENCE.
The foundation of the Solidarity Day of the World Azerbaijanis was laid in Nakhchivan on December 31, 1989, when USSR-Iran borders were knocked down. Despite serious pressures of two totalitarian states, Azerbaijanis living on both banks of the Araz River broke down installation along the then Soviet-Iranian border (between Northern and Southern Azerbaijan) to reunite with compatriots who lives in Iran and for weeks voiced slogans calling for unity, this once more demonstrated the might of the Azerbaijanis as a nation.
On December 16, 1991, the Supreme Assembly of the Nakchivan Autonomous Republic taking into consideration the importance of solidarity of Azerbaijanis, declared 31st of December as a holiday of solidarity and unity of Azerbaijanis of the world. Thus being so near to all the Azerbaijanis, the 31st of December is celebrated as the Solidarity Day of the World Azerbaijanis.
The Day was marked officially for the first time during the government of Abulfaz Elchibey (he also was an initiator of breaking the USSR-Iran borders) in 1992.
Later under the decree issued by Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev in 1993, December 31 was officially declared a state holiday – Solidarity Day of the World Azerbaijanis. Since then the Azerbaijanis have been marking December 31 – Solidarity Day of the World Azerbaijanis as an important holiday.
THIS DAY HAS A SPECIAL IMPORTANCE TO ALL AZERBAIJANIS.
At the heart of unity and solidarity of the World Azerbaijanis – the urgent task of historical self-determination of our people – lay the ideas of Azerbaijani and Azerbaijan statehood. Today the problem of national unity and solidarity of the World Azerbaijanis is treated in Azerbaijan as a state policy, the issues of forming the abroad-residing Azerbaijanis as a Diaspora, establishment and strengthening of the connections of the World Azerbaijanis with each other and with their Motherland are the main parts of the agenda. The independent Azerbaijan state is a mighty factor for solidarity of Azerbaijanis of the world, a reliable buttress for their organizing and their admission to the world communities. It is the day when Azerbaijani Diaspora organizations, cultural groups and community organizations are encouraged to get together, celebrate their culture and engage in joint initiatives. Organizing of the abroad-residing Azerbaijanis, movement of their Diaspora will, certainly promote interests, national moral values, rights, and ideas of Azerbaijani on the international level.