More than fifty thousand South Azerbaijanis gathered in Tebriz, the capital city of South Azerbaijan during a soccer match and chanted “South Azerbaijan is not Iran” in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League, similar to what Catalans did in a Barcelona soccer match in Spain.

From a human rights activist to a front-end web developer; A brief story of my web development journey

I was only 16 when I found myself trying to code, not out of curiosity but out of necessity to develop my Human Rights blog while trying to keep it hidden from everyone.

y coding journey dates back to 2007 when I was living back home in South Azerbaijan and trying to publish regarding the human rights violations happening in my homeland. South Azerbaijan was occupied by Iran in 1946 and the people have been fighting ever since for their independence from the fascist Iranian government.

It is common knowledge that Iran has an extremely autocratic regime and is being ruled by dictators. Amongst many of the human rights violations being committed by the Iranian governments is the immense censorship of information and the lack of free access to the internet.

South Azerbaijani people alongside Arabs, Turkmans, Kurds, Baluchs and other ethnic minorities are forbidden from their basic human rights including freedom of religion, freedom of the press, education in their mother tongue, deciding a name for their children, right for self-determination and autonomy as well as forceful assimilation. For these exact reasons, I was determined to begin a blog to write about these violations in my homeland. Due to the oppressive government, I was pushed to discover a new path to hide my activism to stay safe. This was the very first time that I began to research and learn the world of coding.

At that time where internet access was very limited and websites like Youtube and Facebook were not around, it was not an easy task to learn to code. After hundreds of hours of research and reading, I learned about Microsoft FrontPage, a software that you could use to code and design websites. As the internet was constantly being monitored by the government and I had to stay anonymous, I was unable to work from home. I was forced to go to internet cafes and soon it became a routine after school, every day. After two months of doing constant work with Microsoft FrontPage and comprehending many articles and books, I finally managed to open my blog.

I had my blog for about 2 years and I was able to become one of the best go-to sources for people to check the latest news. I received thousands of emails from individuals reporting about violations and discrimination that they or a loved one has faced. A proud moment in my life was also when organizations such as amnesty international approached me through this blog requesting me to help them get in touch with those victims.

I was forced to close my blog from the fear of being identified by the Iranian regime. This was one of the most difficult moments of my life as so many people were following and relying on my blog. Furthermore, I had spent countless hours trying to publish articles, manage and maintain my blog while being afraid of getting caught by the police and Iranian intelligence services. I had dedicated so many hours to something I felt passionate and enthusiastic about. Something that meant a matter of life or death for many people.

During the 2 years that my blog was active, I fell in love with coding and have learned so much about coding mainly HTML and CSS. I found it intriguing, satisfying and entertaining to build a website from scratch with a couple of lines of code and witnessed how this could touch and change people’s lives firsthand. This is how I decided to become a developer and my journey began.