Currently Browsing

June, 2009

  • 30 June 2009
  • Posted By NIAC
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Iran Updates – June 30

11:00 pm: 18-year old victim identified: His name was Ashkan
Neda Soltan has become the face of those killed during the post-election protests, however other victims include 18 year-old Ashkan Sohrabi. Rooz online interviewed his sister, Elham, who remembered Ashkan’s last words, “Don’t worry, I’ll come back.” According to Elham, he was shot 3 times in the chest.

5:22 pm: Mowj – Association of Journalists meeting cancelled because of intimidation

Association of Journalists had planned a gathering on Friday, June 2nd, to protest the restrictions placed on media.  However, according to Mousavi’s website, this meeting was cancelled upon an order from security forces.  The Association of Journalists believes that having this meeting is their right and asked the judicial system to immediately reconsider their treatment of members of this union (some of whom are still imprisoned) and remove the recent limitations put on freedom of media.

5:08 pm: (State Run) Kayhan Newspaper: Israel behind the twitter messages!

According to (the state-run newspaper) Kayhan, Israel sent 18 thousand twitter messages just two days before the elections in its “internet war against Iran.”

4:11 pm: Iran’s poet laureate speaks out – Iran’s national poet Simin Behbahani went on NPR and recited two poems inspired by the protests in Iran.  Listen to them here or watch on Youtube.

  • 30 June 2009
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Iranians have to find their own course

Cross Posted from the Cincinnati Enquirer
By R.K. Ramazani, Member of NIAC’s Board of Advisors

President Obama should not take sides in the political crisis in Iran. His critics are wrong in faulting him for not siding with the demonstrators and for not standing for the American value of freedom.

Freedom, after all, is not the only core value of the American Republic. Along with liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the American Declaration of Independence also embodies the value of life.

With more than a dozen Iranian protesters already dead, Obama is trying both to protect innocent lives and advance political freedom for Iranians. He realizes that siding with the demonstrators likely would provoke even greater bloodshed.

The tension between internal freedom and external independence in Iran’s history has persisted because no balance between the two has yet been struck. The current movement protesting the results of the recent presidential election tries to resolve it.

Aspirations for freedom have ebbed and flowed in Iran’s modern history four times:

  • 30 June 2009
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

NIAC calls on Iranian Government to end political detentions and violence against protesters

TEL: 202-215-0998

NIAC also calls on Iran’s trading partners to demand an end to government sponsored violence

Washington DC – The National Iranian American Council remains deeply concerned about the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran since the country’s disputed elections on June 12. Disturbing accounts of continued violence and widespread intimidation and harassment of Iranian citizens by the Basij militia and other elements of Iran’s security forces continue to be received from inside the country.

NIAC is deeply concerned about the fate of hundreds of people detained in the post-election crisis, including opposition figures, human rights defenders, journalists, and protesters. Iranian authorities have carried out hundreds of politically-motivated arrests according to human rights organizations. Those detained are understood to be at a high risk for torture.

NIAC calls on Iranian authorities to:

  • 29 June 2009
  • Posted By Sanaz Tofighrad
  • Uncategorized

Rafsanjani Has Not Caved

Guest post by Jill Marie Parillo, Physicians for Social Responsibility

Very little press reported on Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s speech Sunday June 28, and I just don’t buy the analyses that are out there on it.  CNN does have a better piece, which is more neutral.  Most analyses claim that Rafsanjani is caving to Khamenei. For one, the speech does not sound to me (what I have heard translated into English) like a clear statement in support of Supreme Leader Khamenei, and it’s never a good sign when PressTV claims it to be true.

Rather, Rafsanjani said that he supported Khamenei’s decision to extend the Guardian Council’s time (by 5 days) to consider complaints of election fraud.  In some ways this is only confirming that he thinks there was fraud and complaints need to be heard.  Coming as no huge surprise, the 12 member Guardian Council confirmed today, after a partial recount, that the election was legal and Ahmadinejad is still President.

  • 29 June 2009
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Iran updates – June 29

6:18 Plurality of American voters support Obama’s response to Iran

A plurality (42%) of U.S. voters believe President Obama’s response to the situation in Iran has been appropriate, according to a poll of register voters by Rasmussen Reports.  Almost as many, 40%, believe President Obama has not been aggressive enough in supporting Iranians protesting the results of the election. Five percent think the president has been too agressive, while 13% are unsure.

4:55 pm: Intelligence Minister says some of the arrested “will not be released.”

According to BBC Persian, Gholam Hossein Mohseni-Ejeie, the minister of intelligence, just introduced a new criteria for prosecuting arrested individuals.

Ejeie divided up the arrested individuals into three groups.  “Those who participated and had a hand in the decision-making process regarding the recent events will remain in custody until a decision is made…The other group consists of anti-revolutionary demonstrators who took advantage of the situation.  These individuals have been arrested and will not be freed.”  The third group, according to Ejeie, “is those who have been influenced by the atmosphere.  This group will be released if not already released.”

In addition, Ejeie indicated that a new tribunal will be set up shortly to prosecute the arrested demonstrators.

BBC Persian reported that Karroubi, Khatami and Mousavi have already made formal requests that everyone who has been arrested be released immediately.

4:41 pm: Mousavi’s Facebook: “Loudest Allahu Akbar yet” – Mousavi’s facebook page just confirmed; “Allahu akbar was heard Louder than all the previous nights.”

4:13 pm: MPs preventing Mousavi from appearing on TV

Amir Kabir newsletter (Amir Kabir Polytechnic University) reports that several supporters of Ahmadinejad in the parliament are trying to prevent Mousavi from attending a live TV program.  According to this newsletter, one MP has reported that several Ahmadinejad supporters are writing letters to the IRIB, the Guardian Council and the Secretary of the National Security Council of the Islamic Republic of Iran to prevent Mousavi’s appearance on TV.  MPs such as Gholamali Haddad-Adel, Hussein Fadaei, and Ruhollah Hosseinian are trying to collect signatures for this letter.

2:22 pm: “According to recent polls 85% of the people trust the election process,” Fars News.

Hussein Taeb, commander of Basij forces, claimed today that “according to recent polls 85% of the people trust the election process and the remaining 15% will be resolved with the Guardian Council’s announcement.”   Taeb did not say how these polls were conducted.

1:14 pm: Translated news from an human rights activists in Iran:

“People in Melat Park, Valiasr Sq., Vanak and sidewalks of Vailasr St. are holding hands and are trying to form a human chain.”

“But reports of sporadic clashes indicate that the armed forces are trying to prevent the formation of the human chain.”

“Urgent: Mojtaba Tehrani, reporter for the Etemade Meli newspaper which belongs to Karroubi, has been arrested.”

“Security police officers entered Mojtaba Tehrani’s house and in addition to searching the house took away personal items such as computer and compact CDs.”

1:04 pm: The Guardian Council has officially reaffirmed the results of the election, according to the semi-official Fars News agency.

11:28 am: Fars News (Persian) is reporting that Ahmadinejad has picked up 12 extra votes in the recount of Jiroft. Mousavi’s campaign has boycotted the process, which they consider a ploy. It is clear that the recount is only going to confirm the disputed results announced on election night.

11:18 am: Mousavi’s homepage (Persian) has breaking news from the recount. One vote has been added Ahmadinejad’s tally and one vote has been subtracted from Mousavi’s tally.

11:15 am: No violations found so far in recounting the votes – Fars

According the semi-official Fars News agency (Persian), 10 percent of the votes have been recounted in some cities and no contradiction with the original count has been found.  The recount has reportedly been completed in Zarand, Islamshahr, Kerman, Karaj, and Babolsar.  Mousavi has refused to participate in the process, which he considers a ploy.

“Recounting 10 percent of the votes in front of the IRIB camera” 

Kadkhodaei, the Guardian Council’s spokesperson, told Jame Jam Online (Persian) that 10 percent of the votes in all provinces will be recounted in front of the state TV’s cameras.  Kadkhodaei said that the Guardian Council’s meeting with Mousavi’s representative was not successful.  “Therefore, an order was issued to recount the votes in front of IRIB’s cameras.”

10:40 am: Protesting mothers arrested

According to Amir Kabir Newsletter (Amir Kabir Polytechnic University), more than 20 women who were protesting the recent arrests and violence were taken into custody on Saturday.  These women had gathered in Tehran’s park Laleh when they were arrested and taken to Shapour detention facility.

The armed forces also prevented several women who were wearing black from entering the park and beat those who protested.  “According to eyewitnesses,” Amir Kabir reported, “several middle aged women were sitting on the park benches holding candles with black ribbons.”  Some of the women whose children are among the arrested or missing individuals were holding their pictures.

— Iran English News Roundup —

Basij ‘Impostors’ Blamed for Havoc, Radio Free Europe, June 29, 2009

As officials prepare to slam the door shut on any effort to revisit the June 12 election, they appear to be going on the offensive over allegations of thuggery and killing on the part of security forces.

Iran’s English-language Press TV quotes police officials saying they’ve uncovered “armed impostors who posed as security forces during postelection violence in the country.”

European Union Warns Iran Against Acts of Intimidation, The New York Times, June 29, 2009

The European Union on Sunday condemned Iran’s crackdown on postelection protesters and said it would meet any Iranian intimidation of European diplomatic staff with a “strong and collective E.U. response.”

Foreign Minister Carl Bildt of Sweden, which takes over the European Union presidency starting Wednesday, said the Iranian government had done damage to itself at home and abroad through the response to the disputed June 12 vote.

Iran Says Recount of 10% of Ballots Has Begun, Los Angeles Times, June 29, 2009

Iranian authorities announced today that a recount of 10% of the ballots cast in recent presidential elections riddled with allegations of fraud has begun, though the main opposition candidate has rejected the move as a ploy and refused to participate.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman told reporters, meanwhile, that five of the eight British embassy employees arrested over the weekend in Tehran had been released but that three, all Iranian nationals, were under interrogation. The arrests sharpened Iran’s confrontation with the West over the disputed election and its violent aftermath.

Iran: No Downgrade of Diplomatic Ties with Britain, The Guardian, June 29, 2009

Iran dismissed the idea of downgrading diplomatic relations with Britain on Monday despite soaring tensions between the two countries after Iranian authorities detained local British Embassy employees accused of stirring up post-election unrest.

Britain angrily denied that any Iranian staff at its embassy in Tehran have been involved in challenges to the regime. On Sunday, the European Union condemned the detentions as “harassment and intimidation” and demanded the immediate release of those still in custody.

Schumer, Graham: Restrict electronics sales to Iran, The Hill, June 27, 2009

A bipartisan pair of senators is pushing for international restrictions on electronic equipment sold to Iran, citing reports that the government has monitored citizens’ communications after the country’s disputed elections.

Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Friday called on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to request that the European Union curb all telecommunications equipment German and Finnish companies, Siemens and Nokia, sell to Iran.

Schumer and Graham also announced plans to introduce a bill on Friday that would render foreign companies ineligible for U.S. government contracts if they sell electronic equipment to Iran that contributes to the government’s monitoring of citizen communication.

Op-Ed: No Velvet Revolution for Iran, Washington Post, June 28, 2009

The three most powerful forces in the modern world are democracy, religion and nationalism. In 1989 in Eastern Europe, all three were arrayed against the ruling regimes. Citizens hated their governments because they deprived people of liberty and political participation. Believers despised communists because they were atheistic, banning religion in countries where faith was deeply cherished. And people rejected their regimes because they saw them as imposed from the outside by a much-disliked imperial power, the Soviet Union.

When we see the kinds of images that have been coming out of Iran over the past two weeks, we tend to think back to 1989 and Eastern Europe. Then, when people took to the streets and challenged their governments, those seemingly stable regimes proved to be hollow and quickly collapsed. What emerged was liberal democracy. Could Iran yet undergo its own velvet revolution?

It’s possible but unlikely. While the regime’s legitimacy has cracked — a fatal wound in the long run — for now it will probably be able to use its guns and money to consolidate power. And it has plenty of both. Remember, the price of oil was less than $20 a barrel back in 1989. It is $69 now. More important, as Zbigniew Brzezinski has pointed out, 1989 was highly unusual. As a historical precedent, it has not proved a useful guide to other antidictatorial movements.

  • 28 June 2009
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

The End of the Beginning

cross-posted from Foreign Policy

By Trita Parsi and Reza Aslan

Iran’s popular uprising, which began after the June 12 election, may be heading for a premature ending. In many ways, the Ahmadinejad government has succeeded in transforming what was a mass movement into dispersed pockets of unrest. Whatever is now left of this mass movement is now leaderless, unorganized — and under the risk of being hijacked by groups outside Iran in pursuit of their own political agendas.

In 1999, students in Iran demonstrated against the closing of reformist newspapers. The unrest lasted a few days and was brutally suppressed. The demonstrators were almost exclusively students. No other segments of society joined their ranks in any meaningful numbers. With their limited appeal to other segments of society, the demonstrators failed to grow in numbers and attain their political objectives.

The demonstrations following the Iranian election on June 12 share few if any characteristics of the student uprising of 1999. What we have witnessed taking place in Iran is a mass movement attracting supporters from all walks of life, all demographics, all classes, and even all political backgrounds. Even supporters of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have expressed discomfort with the developments in Iran, arguing that they voted for Ahmadinejad because they thought he would be a better president, and not because he would be a better dictator.

Iran Updates – June 28

5:47 pm: According to a contact in Tehran, women police are now out in force. Not that the women protesters were free from being attacked, but now there is a special female force solely designed for them.

5:24 pm: LA Times reports that Mousavi’s wife, Zahra Rahnavard, was also at the rally.

5:21 pm: Tweets from a human rights activist in Iran:

  1. Kambiz Norouzi, legal secretary of journalists’ union was arrested today.
  2. Shokoofeh Azar, reporter for Sarmaye Emrooz paper, was arrested in front of Ghoba mosque. Her family have no info.
  3. Mousavi was in the vicinity of Ghoba today but huge crowd & heavy traffic did not let him enter the mosque.

5:17 pm: Some British embassy officials released

(VOA) Iranian state media is reporting that authorities have released some members of the British Embassy staff in Tehran, one day after eight Iranian staffers there were detained for alleged links to the nation’s post-election unrest.

A report quotes the nation’s intelligence minister, Qolam Hosein Mohseni-Ejei as saying Sunday it has proof that some British embassy employees collected news about the recent protests.

It is unclear how many staffers remain in custody.

3:50 pm: More on Rafsanjani’s statement, as reported by the Iranian Labor News Agency and translated by Sanaz:

Rafsanjani, the head of the Expediency Discernment Council said the aftermath of the elections is a “complicated ploy by suspicious agents whose goal is to create separation between the people and the Islamic regime.” According to Rafsanjani, “wherever people have entered the scene with awareness such a plot has been neutralized.”

3:33 pm: Ayatollah Javadi Amoli Calls for Separation of Powers in Iran

“When one person alone enacts, executes and judges the law, there will be problems” (Translated from Mowj news)

Amoli, who led the Friday prayers sermon in Qom, believes that the best way to resolve the current situation is a separation between the executive branch, the judicial branch and the Islamic jurist. Amoli said separation of powers is not a recent phenomenon and it existed before Islam. “Separation of powers does not belong to a particular century. Islamic and non-Islamic governments have it now, too,” he said.

2:39 pm: “Iranbaan” also reports via twitter that “Mousavi could not join [the] people today but apparently he’s spoken to them through a mobile & a loudspeaker.”

2:32 pm: Iranian activists are reporting that Mehdi Karoubi, Morteza Malekian, Faezeh Hashemi & Effat Mar’eshi were among today’s demonstrators.


This video shows Karroubi with demonstrators, but we can’t confirm if it is in fact from today.

1:55 pm: Video of demonstrators


1:53 pm: Clashes in North Tehran

(Via AP) Riot police clashed with up to 3,000 protesters near a mosque in north Tehran on Sunday, using tear gas and truncheons to break up Iran’s first post-election demonstration in five days, witnesses said.

Witnesses told The Associated Press that some protesters fought back, chanting: “Where is my vote?” They said others described scenes of brutality — including the alleged police beating of an elderly woman — in the clashes around the Ghoba Mosque.

The reports could not immediately be independently verified because of tight restrictions imposed on journalists in Iran.

According to one Iranian human rights activist, the Ghoba Mosque was full and there were “tens of thousands” in the nearby streets. She reports the police are beating people to disperse the crowd.

12:30 pm: Israeli Press – “Good we didn’t bomb Iran”

[E]verything happening at Tehran’s Azadi Square – the amazing coming together of young people, Internet culture, social ferment, and woman power – would not have happened had we listened to the regular bunch of hysterical screamers around here and attempted to bomb Iran’s nuclear sites

What would have happened then? Exactly what happens around here during times of war: The Iranian public would have rallied around the leadership, a wave of patriotic fury would have swept through the whole of Iran, and Ahmadinejad would not have needed to resort to any fraud in order to defeat the reformists.

12:17 pm: Rafsanjani breaks silence, calls for fair and thorough examination of election complaints:

In Sunday’s statement, Rafsanjani praised a decision by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last week to extend by five days a deadline for Iran’s top legislative body to receive and look into complaints by the three defeated candidates.

“This valuable move by the Supreme Leader in order to attract the people’s trust towards the election process was very effective,” Rafsanjani told a meeting of families of victims of a 1981 bombing in Tehran that killed many senior officials.

“I hope those who are involved in this issue thoroughly and fairly review and study the legal complaints,” he said.

11:46 am: Is Iran “meddling” in Iraq?

Yes, says Gen. Ray Odierno, Commander of US forces in Iraq. Today on CNN, Odierno said Iran continues to “interfere inside of Iraq.” Although that activity is somewhat reduced, Odierno said that was a result of the improved security situation, not of the Iranians’ intent. Odierno said of the Iranians, “They’re still attempting to interfere in Iraq. They’re still attempting to have undo influence inside of Iraq.”

11:20 am: Iranian employees of British embassy, UN detained:

Iranian authorities arrested eight local employees of the British embassy in Tehran, accusing them of “playing major parts” in the recent unrest over a presidential election, the semi-official Fars news agency reported today.

The eight worked in the embassy’s political section. At least one UN employee has also been targeted:

Iranian authorities have also targeted local staffers of the United Nations. At least one was arrested after she was photographed flashing a supportive “V” signal with her fingers during a rally in support of Ahmadinejad’s challenger, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, in front of the U.N.’s Tehran offices.

11:19 am: The Guardian has a piece examining the battle behind-the-scenes for power in Iran. The article provides a lot of context, but breaks little new ground.

NPR has a story about the CIA’s troubles collecting reliable information on Iran.

  • 27 June 2009
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Iran Updates – June 27

10:50 am: Laura Rozen investigates if events in Iran have weakened Obama’s hand or strengthened it:

As the Obama White House has recalibrated and toughened its daily talking points on Iran in response to the violence of the post-elections dispute, the impression has emerged in some quarters that Washington is flustered by recent events, and indeed, that a wrench has been thrown in President Obama’s hopes for engaging Tehran.

But recent administration assessments and conversations with outside government Iran watchers and non-proliferation experts offer a different view in which Obama’s hand may actually have been strengthened and Iran’s weakened by some overlooked recent events. Among the factors they cite: the outcome of recent elections in Lebanon, in which a pro-western coalition won a majority over a coalition that includes the Iranian-backed Shiite militant group Hezbollah, the eagerness of Iran’s leading regional ally Syria to engage with Washington, Arab states’ generally positive response to the Obama administration’s strong push to negotiate Middle East peace and the creation of a Palestinian state. Beyond the Middle East, Obama’s aggressive non-proliferation initiatives and “reset” with Moscow could also end up increasing pressure on Iran, they said.

But not everyone shares this view, and nearly everyone agrees this makes it much harder to engage Iran on critical national security issues in the near future:

“My understanding is the president has had a much larger vision,” said one Washington Iran analyst on condition of anonymity. “He wanted a strategic dialogue with the Iranians, he gave them a pathway into the western camp that benefits the west, the people of Iran, and the larger picture: peace and stability in the Middle East.”

“It’s very tough for the president to engage in a serious manner within the next three-to six months because of how the Iranian government has been conducting itself,” said the National Iranian American Council’s Trita Parsi. “It’s politically far more difficult for him to pull this off,” than before the Iranian government crackdown on opposition supporters. “I’m not saying it’s impossible.”

10:37 am: Overnight news

NY Times:

The direct confrontation over Iran’s presidential election was effectively silenced Friday when the main opposition leader said he would seek permits for any future protests, an influential cleric suggested that leaders of the demonstrations could be executed, and the council responsible for validating the election repeated its declaration that there were no major irregularities.


Security-services commanders have reinforced their already heavy presence in Tehran, a week after the beginning of a brutal crackdown that has reined in unrest following contested June 12 presidential elections. Authorities were reported to be continuing to detain, question and prepare legal proceedings against opposition supporters and those alleged to have participated in recent protests. And the country’s hard-line clerics have rallied behind Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in supporting President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s declared landslide poll victory.

  • 26 June 2009
  • Posted By NIAC
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Iran Updates – June 26

10:30 pm: For further insight into how events are being portayed in Iran by the state media, we prove excerpts from the (hardline) newspaper Kayhan, which quotes Tehran’s sepah commander:

“These interferences in our nation are nothing but a plot set out by the British, American and the Zionists. They have been waiting for the right time to influence our politics. The must stay out of our affairs and their meddling must be brought to the attention of the public.”

With regards to casualties, he indicated that “the casualties have nothing to do with us, on the count that we were not in those areas.”

“The people of Iran have an agreement with Ayatollah Khomeini and Khamenei to protect the Islamic Republic and our values from foreign and domestic enemies, and this is a time that we must deal harshly with hooligans and agitators.”

Thanks to Ali for the translation.

5:26 pm: Vivid description of the basij breaking into Kalameh Newspaper:

According to Dr. Saeed Hosseini Beheshty, [Persian] one of the senior editors at Kalameh Newspaper, “on Monday, June 22, a group of individuals approached Kalameh’s headquarters. They were wearing regular street clothes and began to demand the newspaper’s security guard to open the doors. They identified themselves as intelligence officers. At this point, the chief editor of Kalameh approached the door and requested the officers to present an entrance warrant. However, they did not comply and began to force their way in and broke down the door. Upon entering they started to destroy office equipment and place employees under arrest. Some employees were also beaten up. The arrested writers and editors were transported to police penitentiaries. What they don’t know is they will never break our spirit and the spirits of the Iranian people.”

3:42 pm: ‘Iranbaan’ reported this earlier today:

“In the written agreement the martyrs families have to sign promising not to complain, a clause is inserted saying that Mousavi is responsible for the death of our loved ones and we do not have any complaints against the armed forces.”

3:08 pm: Green balloons


2:44 pm: Mir Hussein is essentially under house arrest

Gooya news [Persian] said today that Mousavi has been “essentially under house arrest since Monday,” according to the reports they have received. Therefore, said Gooya, “any event announced from now on is not linked to Mousavi and is only in his support.” Gooya news also said “all Mousavi’s associates have been arrested and every day more of them are detained. Therefore, Kalemeh website is no longer under the control of Mousavi’s close associates. Even Mousavi’s family members are under surveillance…according to reports by Mousavi’s associates, the number of arrested people has passed 1000 and there is no news about many of them.”

2:37 pm: Human rights activists “Iranbaan” reports that “Neda Agha Sultan’s father was brought on TV and her martyrdom was blamed on the ‘rioters.’”

2:36 pm: Could a strike by Iran’s oil workers succeed? – asks The National:

Iran Updates – June 25

6:02 pm: Rep. Cantor asks Pelosi for hearings
House Minority Whip Eric Cantor sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi today asking for joint hearings on the situation in Iran.

I know that you share our deep concern about the growing violence and brutality in Iran.  Unfortunately, it has become clear that the cleric-backed Iranian regime has decided to end the public demonstrations through violent oppression.

Today, I am asking you to call on House committees to hold joint hearings on the situation in Iran, the policies of the United States towards Iran, and any need for changes in our policy

The full text of the letter can be found here.
5:55 pm: Message from Ayatollah Montazeri: “Worldly positions are not permanent” According to Mowj news, Ayatollah Montazeri “harshly criticized the inappropriate actions of the authorities.”

Ayatollah Montazeri praised the people of Iran for proving their braveness and maturity once again by participating in political and social scenes and expressed his regret that in reaction to people demanding their rights the authorities “have taken an approach and committed actions that is beyond imagination by any just human being.”

Montazeri said “I have been involved in the struggles against the previous (Shah) regime and the establishment of the Islamic Republic as much as I can.  I feel ashamed in front of the people and clearly announce that beloved Islam…is different from the behavior of the current rulers.  These actions and policies being done under the banner of religion will certainly cause large segments of people to become cynical regarding the principles of Islam and theocracy and will ruin the hard and valuable work of the Islamic ulema.”

Montazeri harshly criticized the militarization of the society saying “In a country and a regime which is proud of being Islamic and Shiite, and only 30 years after the victory of the revolution when people still remember the last scenes of the past regime, how could they turn Tehran and other large cities into a big garrison while the world is watching? They have put our brothers in the armed forces against the people.  By using plainclothes agents, who are reminders of baton-carrying agents of Shah, cowardly shed the blood of the youth and men and women of this land.”

Montazeri then posed questions to authorities asking “was this the strategy of Prophet Mohammad and Imam Ali? They never cursed and accused their enemies and didn’t silence them by the sword…Now, a group of people thinking that they can commit any crime because they see themselves as being close to the government; attack student dorms, beat them and throw them down the building, commit chain murders and terrorize intellectuals of this nation and be immune from punishment; this is not compatible with any religion and custom.”

Montazeri advised the people to “pursue their reasonable demands while maintaining their calm.”  He also advised the authorities, asking them to stop using harsh and irrational measures which destroys people’s trust and exacerbates the separation between them and regime.  “[The authorities] should not create divisions among the people, apologize for their past mistakes, and understand that worldly positions are not permanent.”

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.



Share this with your friends: