Discrimination Against Qashqai Turks in Iran

December 21, 2009 in Journals / Articles

UK Border Agency: The Qashqai website, accessed on 1 December 2009, noted that the Qashqai are also known as the Qashqaai, Qashqa’i or Ghashghai. Information on the website stated:

“The Qashqai compose a community of settled, semi-settled, and pastoral nomadic households who reside mainly in the Fars region of southern Iran. They speak Qashqai Turki (Turkish). Most of them also speak, at least, Persian (Farsi). They are Shia Muslims… Since the 1960s the general trend has beed a sharp increase in sedentarization of Qashqai nomads and involvement in non-pastoral and non traditional economic activities. Presently the Qashqai form mainly settled and semi-settled households. Qashqai population of today is estimated between one and one and a half million.” [37a]

The Advisory Panel on Country Information (APCI) review of the COI Service’s Iran COI Report of August 2008, undertaken by Dr Reza Molavi and Dr Mohammad M Hedayati- Kakhki of the Centre for Iranian Studies at Durham University, dated 23 September 2008, (APCI Report 2008) stated that:

“In addition to established ethnic minorities, a number of nomadic groups and tribes are targeted for discrimination, for instance the Gheshghay [another version of Qashqai]… The population of the group is estimated as 2% of the Iranian population, living mainly in Fars Province in Southern Iran. Shiraz is known as the biggest centre of the group’s activities, whilst a part of the group continue to be nomadic. Notably, after the 1979 Iranian Islamic Revolution, Khosrow Khan Qashqai, the Ghashghayi leader, returned to Iran from Germany, was arrested and subsequently publicly executed for advocating for the group’s rights and autonomy. This has caused long-standing suspicion by the government of this ethnic group, considering it a potentially volatile one.

“Moreover, the religious practices of the group are not entirely in line with those of the mainstream Islamic regime and therefore give rise to suspicions and discrimination against them, as described in the account below:

“Following the Islamic Revolution, various Qashqa’i customs, such as public dancing, the playing of traditional music on oboes and skin drums, and stickfighting games performed to music, were declared immoral and anti-Islamic by the new government. The extent of continuous discrimination is not known. However, various laws still deem certain Qashqa’i practices to be anti-Islamic, despite the fact that the group is Shia Muslim.

“In light of the above information, whilst those of the Ghashghayi ethnicity would not be prosecuted on basis of ethnicity alone, they may indeed be targeted on basis of ethnicity for dispossession of property, employment, education as well as other discrimination. Lastly, the account below suggests a possible rationale for such efforts by the government in relation to the Ghashghayi:

“In 2005, Miloon Kothari, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, condemned the recent confiscation of land owned by minority groups such as the Qashqa’i. Tehran’s objective with these policies, according to human rights activists, was to implement ‘ethnic restructuring’ by forced migration out of the oil and sugar-rich Khuzestan province. In addition to land confiscation, the Qashqa’is also had to deal with traditional pastures being sold to the private sector.” [6a] (p51-52)