Response to Pan-Turkist Manipulation of the Demographics of Iran

Main Article

Recently, pan-Turkist groups have been exaggerating the number of Turkic speakers and giving false statistics to different sites. They claim that in 2008, there are 20,25, 30, 35,40 45 million Turkic speakers in Iran (depending on which pan-Turkist site one looks at)! Note the total population of Iran was 70 million in 2008. This article is not interested in the political nature of these group and why such politically motivated exaggerations are made, rather than that, we provides a scientific response to their false claims.

Actual Statistics from Iran
What some other sources state:

Actual Statistics from Iran

Unlike what the pan-Turkists claim, there have been statistics done in Iran. The pan-Turkist claim was based on an obscure site named (which has been corrected in the 16th edition-2009). The pan-Turkists however use the 15th edition of Ethnologue which has incorrect information. After contacting Ethnologue via E-mail in 2007, this is what the main editor Mr. Ray Gordon wrote to us: “Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I am not able to locate the original source from 1997. ”
Indeed the inconsistent nature of can be seen here from their 1996 to 2000 to 2006 editions. (1995 edition)

Another Iranian author (by the pen name Mazdak Bamdadan) has also written to seeking their explanation on the big change from the 1996 to the 2000 and 2004 editions. They were not also able to provide a source:

Dear Mazdak,
Sorry we cannot help you further with this question. This information was posted by a previous editor, and it probably came from his personal communication with someone else, and was therefore not documented.
Regards, Conrad Hurd

Interestingly enough, Ethnologue which has not done any actual sampling for their 15th edition has also been accused of political meddling and manipulations. We believe the previous editor who had personally communicated must have personally communicated with a pan-Turkist person.

The following information found on the internet about SIL (Ethnologueis publication and endeavor of SIL international) is noteworthy:

SIL has been accused of being involved in moving indigenous populations in South America from their native lands to make way for exploitation schemes of North American and European oil corporations. The most well known example is the case of the Huaorani people in Ecuador, which resulted in many deaths and the moving of the people into reservations controlled by the missionaries.

In 1975, thirty anthropologists signed “The Denouncement of Pátzcuaro”, alleging that SIL was a “tool of imperialism”, linked to the CIA and “divisions within the communities that constitutes a hindrance to their organization and the defence of their communal rights”. In 1979, SIL’s agreement with the Mexican government was officially terminated, but it continued to be active in that country (Clarke, p. 182). The same happened in 1980 in Ecuador (Yashar 2005, p. 118), although a token presence remained. Remnants of SIL presence were protested in every subsequent Indian uprising. In the early 1990s, the newly-formed organisation of indigenous people of Ecuador CONAIE once more demanded the expulsion of SIL from the country. At a conference of the Inter-American Indian Institute in Merida, Yucatan, in November 1980, delegates denounced the Summer Institute of Linguistics for using a scientific name to conceal its religious agenda and capitalist worldview that was alien to indigenous traditions.

John Perkins provides an example of criticism of SIL activity:

I had heard that (Jaime Roldos, President of Ecuador, 1979-81) accused The Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL), an evangelical missionary group from the United States, of sinister collusion with the oil companies. I was familiar with SIL missionaries from my Peace Corps days. The organization had entered Ecuador, as it had in so many other countries, with the professed goal of studying, recording, and translating indigenous languages. SIL had been working extensively with the Huaorani and Matsés tribes in the Amazon basin area, during the early years of oil exploration, when a disturbing pattern appeared to emerge. While it might have been a coincidence (and no link was ever proved), stories were told in many Amazonian communities that when seismologists reported to corporate headquarters that a certain region had characteristics indicating a high probability of oil beneath the surface, SIL went in and encouraged the indigenous people to move from that land, onto missionary reservations; there they would receive free food, shelter, clothes, medical treatment, and missionary-style education. The condition was that they had to deed their lands to the oil companies.

Rumors abounded that SIL missionaries used an assortment of underhanded techniques to persuade the tribes to abandon their homes and move to the missions. A frequently repeated story was that they had donated food heavily laced with laxatives – then offered medicines to cure the diarrhea epidemic. Throughout Huaorani territory, SIL airdropped false-bottomed food baskets containing tiny radio transmitters; The rumor was that receivers at highly sophisticated communications stations, manned by U.S. military personnel at the army base in Shell [a frontier outpost and military base hacked out of Ecuador’s Amazon jungle to service the oil company whose name it bears], tuned into these transmitters. Whenever a member of the tribe was bitten by a poisonous snake or became seriously ill, an SIL representative arrived with antivenom or the proper medicines – often in oil company helicopters.”

SIL was allegedly financed initially by expatriate coffee processors in Guatemala, and later by the Rockefellers, Standard Oil, the timber company Weyerhauser, and USAID. […] By the 1980s, SIL was expelled from Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico, and Panama, and restricted in Colombia and Peru. Today, according to SIL’s annual report, funds are donations from individuals, churches, and other organizations, channelled to SIL by the Wycliffe Bible Translators.

Whether the information above is correct (allegation of SIL’s connection to various government agencies) is not clear or of concern. What I would like to point out here is that Ethnologuedid not have a source for their statistics of the 14th and 15th edition, and they have never been to Iran. And their editors also responded that they do not know their source and their number is incorrect It would not surprise the writer of this article that some pan-Turkists probably provided Ethnologuewith false numbers which they cannot locate and justify.

In the 2009 edition of Ethnologuehowever, the information has been corrected. We read:

11,200,000 in Iran (Johnstone and Mandryk 2001), increasing. 290,000 Afshar, 5,000 Aynallu, 7,500 Baharlu, 1,000 Moqaddam, 3,500 Nafar 1,000 Pishagchi, 3,000 Qajar, 2,000 Qaragozlu, 130,000 Shahsavani (1993). Population total all countries: 12,612,660.

This 2009 correction is noteworthy considering that several pan-Turkist activists tried to pressure Ethnologue to keep their inflated numbers. In the 2009 edition of Ethnologue however, the information has been corrected.

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