The Kazakhs of Iran
The Stalinist collectivization policy began in 1929 in the former USSR. It first applied through the creation of collective farms in the countryside of all Soviet republics.
The Stalinist collectivization policy began in 1929 in the former USSR. It first applied through the creation of collective farms in the countryside of all Soviet republics. For a period of ten years (until 1938), nearly 97% of the agricultural land of all the Soviet republics was collectivized. In Kazakhstan, during the same period, the application of a policy of forced sedentarization of nomadic tribes and plans for the collectivisation of agricultural lands had tragic consequences for a large part of the Kazakh population. The great Soviet famines affected Kazakhstan and the whole of the former USSR for a long period of four years (1931-1933). During these terrible famines, between 8 and 67 million people died of hunger throughout the Soviet territory, but this tragic event remained for a long time a taboo subject in the history of the USSR. However, neighboring countries (such as Iran) soon experienced the sad consequences of this scourge.
During this period, a region of northwestern Iran (now Golestan province) became a home for some of the victims of the famines that had affected the Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan. Between 1929 and 1936, many families left their homes in Manguistaou (western Kazakhstan), a district north-east of the Caspian Sea, to flee to Gorgan and other areas. Turkmenistan from the present-day Iranian province of Golestan. These Kazakhs who came to Iran were mostly from the Manguychlak peninsula (also called Mangichlak) in western Kazakhstan (Manguistaou province), on the shores of the Caspian Sea. But it must be emphasized that Iran was not the initial destination of this migration movement. These Kazakhs first went south to settle temporarily in different regions with Turkmen population in the Soviet Republic of Turkmenistan. But the indigenous people were very unfriendly towards these Kazakh refugees, as they themselves suffered from famine and the brutal consequences of Stalinist policies.
These Kazakh migrants continued their movement southward and finally crossed the Iranian border to settle immediately in a Turkmen region of Iran, that is to say Gomish Tepe, a very small town located near the Soviet border. But the living conditions were not very good and after a difficult period, these Kazakh refugees, who had neither herds nor farmland, dispersed in the province, around Gorgân and other cities in the province of Golestan, like Kordkuy, Bandar Torkaman, Aq Qala and Gonbad-e Kavous. Many of them became workers and worked on the development projects of the railways and roads. Ten difficult years went by for the Kazakhs, who gradually came to reorganize their lives and bought land, herds, and houses in the towns and villages of Golestan province, neighborhoods that quickly took their name to become "Ghazagh Mahaleh" (Kazakh district). Sunni confession, the Kazakhs quickly built mosques in their neighborhoods. Due to the border closures and the impossibility of a return to Soviet Kazakhstan, the Iranian state granted Kazakh nationality to the refugees in the early 1950s. However, the Kazakhs never severed their ties with their culture. origin. They continued to practice the Kazakh language (belonging to the "Kipchak" language group of the Turkish language family) and respected as before their old ways and customs. Their children also learned Persian at school, and their children studied at universities. The cultural affinities between the Iranians and the Kazakhs were present even before the refugees came to settle in the Iranian province of Golestan. The Kazakhs are predominantly Sunni Muslims (Hanafi school) and therefore share with the Shiite and Sunni Iranians the celebration of major religious holidays such as Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice) or Eid al-Fitr (Feast of breaking), marking the end of the fast of the month of Ramadan.
In addition, the Kazakhs, like the Iranians, are among the nations that celebrate the great festival of early spring whose exact date is that of the vernal equinox (often corresponding to March 21, but may also vary between the 19 and the March 22). The feast bears almost the same name in Persian and Kazakh: "Norouz" (new day) in Persian and its Kazakh variant "Nauryz".
As we have mentioned, the Kazakhs of Iran have paid much attention to the safeguarding of their old customs and customs, despite their distance from their country of origin. At the same time, they adapted very well to the culture of their host country. During the war imposed on Iran by the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, the young Kazakhs of Iran, along with the other Iranians, participated in the Sacred Defense (1980-1988).
Kazakhstan proclaimed its independence in 1991 after the fall of the former Soviet Union. The 1990s were decisive for the Kazakh community in Iran. After the end of the Iraq-Iran war of the 1980s, a period of very dynamic reconstruction marked the post-war period, and hundreds of Kazakh girls and boys had the opportunity to continue their higher education and to gain high in various sectors. Since its independence, the new Kazakh state has been interested in its links with Kazakh diasporas in various countries of the world. Kazakhstan and Iran signed a political and diplomatic agreement in 1992 to develop their relations. Iran opened an embassy in Kazakhstan the same year, and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev made his first official visit to Iran. A year later, Kazakhstan opened its embassy in Tehran. In 2008, the consulate of Kazakhstan was transferred from Mashhad to Gorgân, the capital of Golestan province, given the presence of a large community of Kazakh origin in the cities of that province. During this period, the Kazakhs of Iran considerably increased their cultural activities. In this context, we can mention the publication of Persian-Kazakh dictionaries.
Before the Islamic Revolution of 1979, the population of the Kazakh community was 15,000. This figure has steadily increased until 1991, when the former Soviet Union collapsed and Kazakhstan became independent. Starting in the autumn of 1995, some of the Kazakhs from Iran moved to Kazakhstan, given the facilities offered by the Kazakh government to encourage members of the diaspora to return to the country of origin. Thus, about a third of the Kazakhs of Iran returned to Kazakhstan during the last years of the twentieth century. Most of the members of this diaspora who have left Iran were Kazakhs from Afghanistan since 1980. As time passed, many of the immigrants returned to Iran and preferred to return to Golestan province. Today, about 15,000 Kazakhs live in Iran and live, as before, in the main cities of this Iranian province.
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