In this video footage, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei strongly condemns the British empire for its eradication of native language particularly in India, deliberately “forgetting” the Iranian regime’s own domestic ban on the public speaking or teaching of the native languages of four ethnic minorities in Iran – Ahwazi Arabs, Turks, Kurds and Baluchis.
In his speech, Khamenei says, “Wherever Englishmen entered a place, they changed the native language to English. If there was a rival language they eliminated it. In India, the Indian subcontinent, the Farsi language was the official language there for several centuries. All writing and correspondence of government bodies, the people, the scholars, major schools, and prominent characters was done in the Farsi language. The Englishmen came and forcibly prohibited the use of the Persian language, then made the English language the common language there. Today in the Indian subcontinent, which was one of the main centers of the Farsi language, the Persian language is unfamiliar, while English is the language of the bureaus [official bodies and departments]; the government correspondence is in English, people speak in English, and the majority of their elite language is in English, they must speak English since this language has been imposed forcibly on them”.
The Iranian leader’s moral indignation might be more convincing if his own regime weren’t enforcing linguicide on Iran’s ethnic minorities. Despite the regime’s constitution clearly declaring in Articles 15 and 19 that non-Persian citizens of Iran from the aforementioned minorities, who collectively constitute over 50 percent of the country’s population, have the right to learn in and speak their mother tongues, these articles have never been recognised or adhered to by the regime, with any efforts to promote or teach in any language but Farsi being viewed as a threat to the regime and deemed criminal. For Kurds, Turks, Baluchis and Ahwazi Arabs, even the act of publicly speaking in one’s own native language is seen as an insurrectionary threat to national security which can result in imprisonment; the speaking and learning of Farsi is very literally imposed by force, with schoolchildren mocked by teachers and fellow pupils for speaking or writing in their own native languages rather than Farsi. Unsurprisingly this abusive treatment leads many pupils from minority backgrounds to quit school early on, with illiteracy rates in non-Persian areas significantly higher than that for majority-Persian areas.
Before throwing stones at Britain’s or other nations’ others’ glass houses on the subject of the repression of language, however, the Supreme Leader should first fix his own regime’s efforts to brutally repress and even to eradicate the languages of Iran’s minorities.