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Democratic Party of Azerbaijan


Political party that supported autonomy for Iranian Azerbaijan.

The Democratic Party of Azerbaijan (DPA) was created in September 1945 in Tabriz (Iranian Azerbaijan) under the leadership of Jaʿfar Pishevari. He and other DPA leaders were Azerbaijani Turks of middle-class or landowning origin. Earlier, many had been involved in communist movements (Gilan or Khiyabani revolts, 1920); some had lived or been educated in Soviet Azerbaijan or Moscow. DPA, however, was an independent organization established to secure autonomy for Azerbaijan within Iran. The local branch of the communist Tudeh Party dissolved itself and joined DPA.

Reacting against the brutal policies of economic neglect and Persianization by Reza Shah Pahlavi's dynasty, a DPA-led All Peoples Grand National Assembly (in Tabriz, November 1945, just after World War II) declared rights to national self-determination within sovereign Iran, to retain a just share of their tax revenues, and to use Azerbaijani Turkish (called Türki) as the official language of an autonomous province of Azerbaijan. Elections in December produced an all-DPA majles (parliament); Pishevari formed a government that enfranchised women, began land reform, and established Azerbaijani Turkish as the official language.

The autonomy movement had the support of the occupying Soviet troops, which prevented the forces of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi from entering the province to suppress it. Western observers interpreted the DPA, therefore, as a Soviet puppet. In June 1946, after Soviet forces were withdrawn, Tabriz and Iran signed an agreement that fulfilled most DPA demands. In December 1946, however, Iranian forces entered Azerbaijan and suppressed the DPA government and autonomy movement, so the June agreement was abrogated. Pishevari fled to Baku and died there the following year after mysterious complications from an automobile accident.

See also Azerbaijan; Pahlavi, Mohammad Reza; Pahlavi, Reza; Tudeh Party; Turkish Language.


Abrahamian, Ervand. Iran between Two Revolutions. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1982.

Emami-Yeganeh, Jody. "Iran vs. Azerbaijan (194546): Divorce, Separation or Reconciliation?" In Central Asian Survey. Oxford: Oxford Microform Publications, 1984.

Fatemi, Faramarz S. The USSR in Iran: The Background History of Russian and AngloAmerican Conflict in Iran, Its Effects on Iranian Nationalism and the Fall of the Shah. South Brunswick, NJ: A.S. Barnes, 1980.

Swietochowski, Tadeusz. Russia and Azerbaijan: A Borderland in Transition. New York: Columbia University Press, 1995.

audrey l. altstadt

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