• 23 December 2008
  • Posted By Emily Blout
  • 0 Comments
  • Human Rights in Iran, Uncategorized

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack released this statement today:

“The United States condemns the closing of the Center for the Defense of Human Rights and urges Iranian authorities to allow this and similar civil society organizations to operate free of oppression. On December 21, Iranian authorities closed down the civil society organization of Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi just prior to a ceremony celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Moreover, authorities briefly detained Ms. Ebadi, a renowned human rights defender and both the first Iranian and the first Muslim woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize in its 102 year-old history.”

“The United States is also deeply concerned by the continued detention of internationally known Iranian HIV/AIDS physicians Dr. Arash Alaei and Dr. Kamiar Alaei. December 22 marked six months since the physicians were arbitrarily arrested by Iranian authorities and detained in Tehran’s Evin Prison. As a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Iran has the obligation to afford due process rights to anyone detained. The two have been active in various international exchange programs and academic research, helping to involve Iranians in the international academic and scientific community.”

“In November 2006, because of their work on HIV/AIDS, the Alaei brothers were participants in the first professional exchange program for Iranians in almost three decades, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The program, which focused on public health, led to collaboration between American and Iranian medical professionals that could benefit the global fight against HIV-AIDS. Similar programs have brought citizens from over 165 countries to the Unites States.”

“The Iranian people have consistently expressed their desire to be connected to the global community. The actions of the Iranian Government against the Alaei brothers, Ms. Ebadi, and other human rights activists only serve to isolate further the Iranian people. With our friends and allies in the region, we stand by the brave people of Iran, who are trying peacefully to exercise their universal human rights, and call upon the Government of Iran to abide by its international obligations.”

Press Statement
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
December 23, 2008

Posted By Emily Blout

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Sign the Petition

 

7,349 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.

Sincerely,

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