Azerbaijan Joz'-e La- Yanfak-e Iran or Azerbaijan, an Inseparable Part of Iran is the 'first publication of Iranians residing in the Caucasus'.(1) This newspaper was published mostly in the Azerbaijani language but with some articles in Persian, in Baku (the capital of Azerbaijan) on January 28th, 1918 by the Democratic Party of Iran (Baku Branch). The Democratic Party of Iran was founded in 1914 and started its political activities in Baku after the collapse of tsarist regime in Russia.
'The Democratic Party of Iran with the ideology of Social Democracy was one of the most radical political groups in Iran... Its organization was based on the principles of Social Democracy.' (2)
Inside the Persian letter 'N' of the word Azerbaijan, the title of the newspaper, the phrase 'inseparable part' also re-emphasizes the unity, solidarity and integration between the Iranians of the Caucasus and the land of Iran. At the same time it was obviously considered a strong reaction to the wave of Pan Turkism, which advocated the idea of separation of Azerbaijan from Iran, posing a great threat to Iran's territorial integrity.
According to research by Turaj Atabaki, the propaganda and the instigation of Pan Turkism started in 1908 when the Young Turks seized power and exacerbated the idea of Pan Turkism, attempting to replace the notion of Islamism with it. The involvement of the Ottoman government in the First World War was not only to support the Germans against Britain but also to instigate the Muslims of India, Iran, Afghanistan, the Caucasus, and all the Central Asian countries to fight against England and Russia by employing all means of Islamic ideology, Fetva and propaganda. However, the main aim of the Ottoman government in this war was to get access to the oil region of Baku and some northern places in Iran and from there on move into Central Asia and Afghanistan.(3)
The Masavat Party was established in 1911 in Baku(4) and it was supported and protected by the Ottomans. As a result Caucasian nationalism revived and flourished in the Caucasus. The word 'nation' replaced the word umat and the term 'Pan Turkism' replaced 'Pan Islamism' in their publications. In 1917 the Masawat Party merged with the Turkish Federalist Party with the aim of uniting the Turkish speaking nations under the umbrella of the Turkish government. Consequently, a new government was formed in Baku on the 28th of May 1918, led and supervised by the Turkish army, and continued until April 28th, 1920.(5)
It is worth mentioning that at least fifty thousand Iranian migrants, mostly Persian speakers from Azerbaijan and Turkish speakers from Northern Iran lived in Baku and its suburbs since the second decade of the 20th century. These migrants were quite active among different political parties such as Democrats, Pan Islamists and Pan Turkists.
In that situation, the instigation of Pan Turkism and the issue of the independence of Iranian Azerbaijan, created enormous tensions and concerns among the Iranian migrants in the Caucasus.(6) To avoid further propagation of Pan Turkism, the Democratic Party of Iran, Baku Branch, took the first step of reaction. They believed that it was a conspiracy of the Turkish nationalists to threaten the territorial integrity of Iran.
So, the publication of the newspaper of Azerbaijan, an Inseparable Part of Iran started in Baku to attempt to confront this attitude. A letter from the provincial committee of Azerbaijan (branch of the Democratic Party of Iran) published in the second issue of this newspaper on 19 January 1918, declared clearly '...Azerbaijan is, and will be, an inseparable part of Iran. Azerbaijanis aim to build a free, united, and strong Iran and the Iranian flag (lion, sun) will be waving forever in Azerbaijan.'
It was emphasized that, '...Azerbaijan is the spirit of Iran. As it is obvious that a body cannot exist without soul so the soul is useless in absence of the body. The people of Azerbaijan are the most hospitable nation; any attempts to separate it from Iran will only generate vigorous resistance and hostility.'
The policy and objectives of the newspaper's publications were elaborated in an article written by the editorial board in the first issue of the newspaper under the title 'our faith'. The article read: 'Based on democratic principles and justice, we are going to struggle to maintain the rights of workers and labourers. The main objectives of this publication are to educate the workers, raise their awareness of their rights and to improve and modernize their life. It also aims to introduce democracy and its principles to the public as well. In addition, the newspaper endeavors to provide its readers with up to date information and analysis on international relations either briefly or in details as required, educating and promoting the public awareness and knowledge. It is a great success that this newspaper is coming out in very difficult and critical circumstances to defend the rights of workers, the most deprived class of our society in Iran. We believe that one of the challenging tasks and responsibilities in this regard is to speak for and defend the rights of the people.
The continuity of this publication depends totally on people's effort and their contribution. Therefore, your assistance and your support are absolutely important.
This newspaper complies with requirements, law and standard professional journalistic Principle.'
The format of the newspaper was (37 X 47) and published in four pages in Nawrooz printing house in Baku city. Its layout is described as follows:
The name of the newspaper (Azerbaijan) is located in the middle of the front page in Naskh Calligraphy. The phrase "Inseparable Part of Iran" has been designed inside the letter "Nastaliq" of the word Azerbaijan. Underneath the letter (N) the name of the newspaper in Russian and Latin scripts was written in bold. The date and the number of the issue are placed in Persian as well as Russian. At the top left margin the address and the price of the newspaper is printed in Turkish and in Russian.
News has been classified under columns such as Baku News, Internal situation, Iran situation and Caucasus and Russia situation. Another column is specified as reports from 'special reporter'.
The letters from readers were printed under the column of 'letters for the editor'. Translations of articles from Tajadud, the publication of the Democratic Party of Iran (provincial committee of Azerbaijan branch), could be seen on others pages of the newspaper which indicates a close link with that organization.
On the front page of every issue, Rubayee poems from Bahar or Hassan Zia were printed in Persian. The top right margin of the front page bears the following sentences in Turkish 'Articles and writings consistent to the publication's policy in Turkish and in Persian are accepted, the editorial board has the right to edit articles, unpublished articles will not be returned, the authors articles and writings without names and address will ignored.'
The following sentences have appeared underneath the title Azerbaijan an Inseparable part of Iran in bold 'This newspaper, which is published by the Iranians for the first time, will adhere to Islamic and Democratic principles. The aim of this publication is to promote unity and solidarity in the Islamic world in general and specifically for the Iranian nation; to support its solidarity and to defend its political rights. The question of achieving the aims of this publication should be judged by public opinion. The famous writers of Baku and Iran will contribute to these newspapers.'
Generally all issues of this newspaper had an editorial column. The editorial column of the issues 2, 3, 5, 9, 11 bore the following titles respectively: 'Azerbaijan', 'Miserable Situation', 'Our Black Days', 'Good News or Disaster', 'Till When?', and 'Britain and Iran'. The editor of the newspaper wrote in issues 6, 8, 10 articles with the following titles: 'Pressing Misfortune Or a Stain in History', 'Black Nawrooz' and 'Our Current Situation and Parades in Iran'. In issues 4, 12, 13 the editorial was written by Hassan Mohsenzada. In issue 7, the manifest of the Democratic Party of Iran Baku branch was published under the title of 'The country in Danger'.
The articles written by the famous and distinguished cadres and writers of the Iranian Democrats in Baku were mainly comments on important political developments. The contemplation of issues is very important for the recognition of the time and political achievement of the Iranian Democrats.
Hassan Mohsenzadeh, A. Abdullahzadeh, A. Jalilzadeh, Salmasi, Mir Jafar (Khalikhali) Sayed Javadzadeh, Gulam Hassan Tagizadeh, Hsan Zeia, R. Abaszadeh Murghteh, Taqi Aqazadeh, Rahimzadehd Assi, Abdul Rahim Yosoufzadeh Qarhbughi, Mirza Ali Akhondzadeh, Sayd Sh. Gulam Hussienzadeh, Gh. Tabrizi, Hassan Sadiqi, Yousuf Hajizadeh and some more pen name authors contributed to the Azerbaijan an Inseparable Part of Iran newspaper. The editor of the newspaper, F. Aliqulizadeh is one of the Iranians from Eshqabad. It is obvious that the newspaper reflected the views and thoughts of the radicalists of the Democrat Party of Iran (Baku branch).
Generally the publication of poems in this newspaper is very rare. No attention has been paid to include cartoons, satire and political debates. There were no writings on women's status and the role of women in society. Nothing is said about youth and there weren't any stories or pictures in the newspaper unfortunately.
The Persian writings are a combination of the old and contemporary Persian language, which contains Arabic, Turkish and Russian words and expressions. The presence of the Turkish words resonates the direct effect of the Turkish-speaking people on the Farsi speaking ones in Baku. The existence of the Arabic vocabulary is the legacy of the Madreseh teaching in Iran and in Baku. The entrance of the Russian words is an indication of the Russian Empire's influence that lead the Russian language to be not only the language of officialdom but also commercial correspondence in the Caucasus at that time. The influence of the Arabic words is very obvious in that even the English and Russian words are written in Arabic style in many occasions.
Although this newspaper has had a every hard start, the message of progressive, freedom-loving and pro-Iran voices found its way gradually into the hearts and minds of enlightened and intellectual Iranian migrants in Caucasus. The Nawrooz printing house was established to strengthen this movement, but unfortunately, due to events occurring on March 16th, 1918 it could not continue publication after volume 13, and the Democratic Party of Iran Baku branch was dissolved and broke up. In fact, these 13 volumes of "Azerbaijan, an inseparable part of Iran" are important social and political documents. They emphasize that '... Azerbaijan has a common history with Iran and that it is a part of Iranian territory.'
In a diverse and multilingual society like Iran, where the Persian speakers are the most dominant group, a minority of 'Azerbaijanis' living outside the country preferred to support the idea of pro-Iranism (territorial integrity of Iran) to tribal and lingual nationalism. This newspaper has helped the Iranian people of the Caucasus to know each other and to be aware of their national, political and cultural issues to some extent.
The writers of the newspaper through the mostly political articles aimed to encourage the migrants to raise their awareness, to know other nations in the world, and to become acquainted to the world's civilization in order to help solve the problems of their own society.
The publication of this newspaper in the Turkish and Persian languages was the first journalistic experience of the Iranians residing in Caucasus. Although the writings are frank and more or less harsh, the purity and consistency of the language have been observed thoroughly. Rude and disrespectful words and terminology were avoided. It has been almost nine decades since the Azerbaijan an Inseparable Part of Iran newspapers were published. Surprisingly, the items and issues that were propounded on those newspaper pages, still are propounded and astonish even today.
The complete collection of this newspaper is available in the International Institute of Social History.
- The newspaper Azerbaijan Joz'-e La- Yanfak-e Iran, Issue: 1 January 28, 1918
- Thinking of Democracy in Institutions in Moshruteiat of Iran, Tehran, page.136 and 137, by Fraidon Adamiat
- Azerbaijan and Iranian Nationalism, Faslname-ye Goftegu, Issue: 33 pages 20, by: Turaj Atabaki
- The Great Encyclopedia of Soviet Union, Volume 1, Moscow 1970, Russian page 735
- From Iran to Azerbaijan, Faslname-ye Goftegu Issue 33, Page 10, by: 'naiat Reza
- The last Independence Entrench, Tehran, 1378, page. 18
Text: N. Kawyani