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

The latest from Iran – Saturday

9:27 pm: We’ve posted a drastically improved translation of Mousavi’s statement. See the 6:34 pm update. A million thanks to Ali S.

8:28 pm: NIAC Calls for New Election in Iran
Condemns Government’s Use of Violence and Killing of its Citizens

The National Iranian American Council (NIAC), the largest organization of Iranian-Americans in the US, released the following statement in response to ongoing violence in Iran:

The National Iranian American Council strongly condemns the government of Iran’s escalating violence against demonstrators and reiterates its demand that the government cease using lethal force against unarmed protesters and bystanders.

The only plausible way to end the violence is for new elections to be held with independent monitors ensuring its fairness. Such elections would be consistent with the Iranian constitution.

We support President Obama’s decision not to take sides in the disputed election, particularly in the absence of any candidate calling upon him to do so. At the same time, the White House needs to speak vociferously against the bloodshed taking place before our eyes.

While the Iranian people’s struggle for democracy is not new, Iran will never find internal or external balance unless the human rights, will, and needs of its people are met.”

Trita Parsi, president of NIAC, said: “If action is not taken now, the violence will consume everyone.”

Dokhi Fassihian, a member of the NIAC board, added: “The Iranian-American community and all Iranians in the diaspora are shocked and devastated by the brutality that has been committed against the Iranian people in the past week. Images being sent out of the country clearly indicate the severity of the situation and demand the world’s attention.”

8:04 pm: Mehr News reports [Persian] that the Assembly of Experts announced their full support for Khamenei’s Friday address

Huge news. The Assembly of Experts is the organization that has responsibility of electing and supervising the Supreme Leader.

7:30 pm: Basij taking detained to mosque/headquarters: A close friend of ours just got a call from his grandmother in Tehran.


My grandmother just called me; it’s about 3:40 AM in Tehran. My grandparents live across the street from a Mosque that is also a Basij base. Last week on Saturday she told me that she saw Basijis gathering riot gear and assault rifles from the mosque. According to her, about an hour ago she saw basij vehicles transporting arrested individuals to the mosque. She has been watching from the window and so far, no one has left the building yet.

This mosque/basij base was used in the 1999 student uprising as makeshift jail, and it was rumored that many student were tortured there. My friend Samir had his arm broken at this mosque by Basij officials in 1999 when he was a freshman at the university and wrote political poems for the school’s newspaper. Samir was my neighbor back in the day and was known by many as a political activist. This led to the brutality that was used on him.

The mosque is located off of Vali Asr Sq. in Shahid Saeed Kabkanian St. I took a pic of the mosque when I was in Tehran last summer. In the bottom right corner of the picture you can see the basij insignia.

6:34 pm: Mousavi’s Statement (Much improved, updated translation – Courtesy the amazing Ali S.)

A reference point of history is being shaped these days and nights. People ask themselves what they should do or where they should go. I believe that it is my duty to tell you about my beliefs—tell you, and hear from you, and learn. May we all remember our historic duty, and not run from the tasks upon which the fate of our children and future rests.

Thirty years ago, a revolution was victorious in our country—a revolution in the name of Islam. It was a revolution for freedom, for humanity, for honesty and dignity. During these years—especially when Imam [Khomeini] was alive—we expended so many human resources, finances and hard work to establish this holy structure. And we gained so much—a spiritual life which we had never had before. And people tasted a new way of life which, regardless of all hardships, tasted sweet to them. What people gained was God’s grace, freedom, and the signs of a holy life. I am certain that those who have seen those days will never be satisfied with anything less.

What has happened to us these days? Why do we no longer feel that spiritual happiness? Are we missing something, which keeps us away from that spiritual space? I came to say that it is not too late, and that we are not that far from that brilliant place. I came to show that we still can have a spiritual life in today’s world. I came to speak about Imam [Khomeini’s] beliefs about radicalism. I came to say how dangerous it is to run from lawfulness to dictatorship. I came to remind people that respecting human rights does not weaken our regime, but rather strengthens its foundations. I came to say that people seek dignity and truth in their leaders, and that many of our problems are am result of lies. I came to say that we do not deserve poverty, corruption and mismanagement. I came to invite people to join the Islamic revolution in its honorable, original form, and to re-shape it into to what it must be

Although I have failed in conveying this message eloquently, the noble message of the Revolution was itself so appealing that our young generation—which is far removed from those revolutionary days, and has felt unconnected to its heritage—accepted it and created scenes reminiscent of the early days of the revolution and the Holy Defense [against Saddam’s invasion of Iran]

This young generation chose green as their symbol. And I confess that I only follow them in this way. A generation accused of nihilism has chosen “Allah o Akbar” and “ya Hussein” as their slogans. They return back to Khomeini’s name to show that this holy tree’s fruits are the same any time it blossoms. Nobody but Nature has taught them these slogans. How unjust are the beliefs of those little men who say that these are the work of foreign enemies, and call it a “velvet revolution”

As you know, we have always been faced with betrayal and lies in this way. What I predicted to be the result of by-passing the law has came to us sooner than I expected, and in a more obvious shape than I thought. The people’s overwhelming participation in the elections were because of all the efforts we had made to give them hope for the future despite all the mismanagement they saw and all the misery they felt. We tried to answer those demands which, if remained unsatisfied, may bring instability to the entire regime. If the people’s trust in us and their votes cannot be defended, or they cannot defend their rights in a civilized non-violent way, they will choose dangerous ways to do so. And all the responsibility will rest on the shoulders of those who do not allow civilized behavior.

If the immensity of betrayal and fraud is used as evidence to show that it could not have actually occurred, the republic part of our regime will be corrupted forever, and will prove the argument that Islam and republican government are incompatible. This fate will satisfy only two groups: 1) those who stood from the very beginning in front of Imam [Khomeini] and told him that the Islamic regime is a righteous dictatorship and that the people must be dragged into paradise; and 2) those who believe that Islam cannot be mixed with liberty and republican governance. The great art of the Imam was to defy both of these groups, and neutralize their incorrect beliefs. I came to immobilize these groups once more

Now, the leaders of the country hold the authority to approve the results of the election, and limit all future investigations, and have banned cancelling the election or even changing the final outcome. This is even after they have seen that, in more than 170 poll boxes, the number of ballots exceeded the number of eligible residents. They asked us to bring our complaints to the Guardian Council. But we can see that this council has proven its biased position before, during, and after the election. We know that the very first requirement for good judgment is having a neutral judge.

I insist that nullifying the election—and recasting votes—is a non-negotiable right, and must be monitored by a neutral, trustworthy national committee. This right must not be declared out of the question, as the right to protest must not be banned due to the risk of violence and bloody events.

In addition, instead of threatening us and putting the blame on our shoulders, the National Security Council must give us reasonable answers regarding the plain clothes forces who have been attacking the people and public assets, and creating the violence.

<Ali was unable to finish, so the remaining three paragraphs come from this translation.>

As I am looking at the scene, I see it set for advancing a new political agenda that spreads beyond the objective of installing an unwanted government. As a companion who has seen the beauties of your green wave, I will never allow any one’s life endangered because of my actions. At the same time, I remain undeterred on my demand for annulling the election and demanding people’s rights. Despite my limited abilities, I believe that your motivation and creativity can pursue your legitimate demands in new civil manners. Be sure that I will always stand with you. What this brother of yours recommends, especially to the dear youth, in terms of finding new solutions is to not allow liars and cheater steal your flag of defense of Islamic state, and foreigners rip the treasures of the Islamic republic which are your inheritance of the blood of your decent fathers. By trust in God, and hope for the future, and leaning on the strength of social movements, claim your rights in the frameworks of the existing constitution, based on principle of non-violence.

In this, we are not confronting the Basij. Basiji is our brother. In this we are not confronting the revolutionary guard. The guard is the keeper of our revolution. We are not confronting the army, the army is the keeper of our borders. These organs are the keepers of our independence, freedom and our Islamic republic. We are confronting deception and lies, we want to reform them, a reform by return to the pure principles of revolution

We advise the authorities, to calm down the streets. Based on article 27 of the constitution, not only provide space for peaceful protest, but also encourage such gatherings. The state TV should stop badmouthing and taking sides. Before voices turn into shouting, let them be heard in reasonable debates. Let the press criticize, and write the news as they happen. In one word, create a free space for people to express their agreements and disagreements. Let those who want, say “takbeer” and don’t consider it opposition. It is clear that in this case, there won’t be a need for security forces on the streets, and we won’t have to face pictures and hear news that break the heart of anyone who loves the country and the revolution.

Your brother and companion

Mir Hossein Mousavi

5:53 pm: New Images from today’s demonstrations

Rally-1 (20-06-09)

There have been reports saying some extra component is being added to the water guns to create a burning sensation.

Rally-4 (20-06-09)

The basij apparently have been issued red helmets.

5:42 pm: A member passed on this video, which shows demonstrators, some carrying stones, walking almost aimlessly through the streets, until it is punctuated by one of the day’s fatalities. [Contains disturbing images.]

4:46 pm: Where is Rafsanjani?

According to an online reformist news source Rooyeh,[Farsi] Rafsanjani has been in Qom meeting some members of Council of Experts and a representative of Ayatollah Sistani.

According to the source that asked to remain anonymous, during this meeting they recounted memories of the days of the Revolution.

A reasonable purpose of these meetings, according to the source, is that Rafsanjani is looking for a majority to possibly call for Ahmadinejad’s resignation.

4:27 pm: Moussavi’s open letter to the people of Iran. Released tonight at 9:21pm. It states that he stands with the people to protect the original aims of the revolution to reach human rights and democracy. He states that what they got instead was fraud, injustice, torture and lies. He states why he will not stand down and why all the security forces of Iran are brothers and sisters that should support the nation. He says the body charged with investigating the elections is not a neutral body. He calls on authorities to pull the security forces and Basij out of the streets and allow the people’s voices to be heard peacefully. The full letter in Farsi can be found here. The English version can be found here.

4:13 pm: According to Moussavi’s Facebook page, the police are pouring acid on the demonstrators.

3:59 pm: (Updated) Washington DC- The most diverse and largest crowd of Iranian Americans came out to show their solidarity for the Iranian people. Old and young generations of Iranian Americans joined forces to stand up against the violence in Iran. The approximately 1500 people that started at the Iranian Interest Section walked to the White House echoing the chanting “Where is my vote?” and “Stop the killing! Stop the Coup! Free Iran! Free Iran!” Everyone was instructed not to bring flags as to keep people from promoting their own political agendas.

However, before the mass of protesters reached the White House, there was already a group of 12 people from the MKO, whose flags outnumbered them and were chanting, “Death to the Islamic Republic.” However, they were quickly silenced and left the scene when the overwhelming larger group arrived.

Similar protests have been happening all around the US. Check Facebook to find one near you.

2:53 pm: The White House has just issued a statement on Iran:


Office of the Press Secretary


June 20, 2009

Statement from the President on Iran

The Iranian government must understand that the world is watching. We mourn each and every innocent life that is lost. We call on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people. The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights.

As I said in Cairo, suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. The Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government. If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect the dignity of its own people and govern through consent, not coercion.

Martin Luther King once said – “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” I believe that. The international community believes that. And right now, we are bearing witness to the Iranian peoples’ belief in that truth, and we will continue to bear witness.


2:45 pm: From a contact in Tehran who called and was very shaken up.

“I was out from 4-10pm. Military and Basijis were everywhere. They wouldn’t let anyone go though. Every time there was a group of us, they would shoot us with water guns and disperse all of us. They wouldn’t let us in to where we were supposed to protest.

They had paintball guns which they shot into the crowd and would arrest whoever had a paint mark on them. There was also tear gas everywhere, they would throw it at us and we would throw it back. But it was very dangerous because they all had guns.

I saw a body being carried away. People are afraid to go to the hospital to get treatment for fear of punishment.

Security and police have been confiscating cameras and arresting those who are taking footage. I saw this young guy taking a video and 5 people attacked him and throughout it all he help his hand up with a peace sign- then they arrested him. They have also handcuffed students to the Tehran University fence.

We talk to some normal police and patrolling cops- they are nice and are trying to help people. But it is the Basij and anti-riot [police] that are ruthless. They have been brought in from out of town. There are also many undercover cops.

Also, we don’t watch state media because it takes our hope away. I’m going to go back out, but my cell phone doesn’t work and I don’t know how I will find people.”

2:29 pm: While people chant through the night in Tehran, there is a debate going on in Washington that leads the NY Times to Gauge Whether Obama Is Creating Openings in Iran:

During the Bush years, Iran’s regime was able to coalesce support by uniting the country against a common enemy: President Bush, who called Iran a pillar of the “axis of evil” in a speech that alienated many of the very reformers whom the United States was trying to woo. For much of his administration, even as he strengthened Iran by toppling Iran’s nemesis Saddam Hussein, Mr. Bush struck a confrontational public line against the Iranian regime.

The result, according to many experts here and in Iran, was that Iranians, including reformers, swallowed their criticism of the hard-line regime and united against the common enemy. Iranians with reformist sympathies even began advising Americans to stop openly supporting them, lest that open them to attack as pawns of America.

2:11 pm:

The sounds of “Allah o Akbar” has just started, and is louder tonight than the nights before. And tonight, alongside their Allah o Akbar, people are chanting “Mahmoud [Ahmadinejad] is committing crimes and the Supreme Leader is supporting him! – from Iranbaan [translated]

She also says people are shouting “ya [hail] hossein” again. In addition to referencing Mir Hossein Mousavi, the chants carry a greater meaning. “Ya Hossein” is chanted in order to bring attention to injustice by Shias. It refers to the third Shia Imam, Imam Hossein, who is the iconic tragic figure of the Shia religion.

1:54 pm: An email from a reader:

Apparently the supreme leader of Iran is into shareware, doesn’t want to spend money on the full version of the web portal he is using to remove the “Trial Version” logo right on front the front page. Check it out: http://english.khamenei.ir

I thought we could all use a smile an grim day like today. It makes for a very funny image given that Khamenei could never fill Khomeini’s shoes.

1:42 pm: Getty has published photos from today here, including a number of photos of two leading MEK figures, Maryam Rajavi and former president Bani-Sadr. The two leaders, who are strong advocates for an invasion and regime change in Iran, are now speaking out in support of Mousavi in an apparent bit of political opportunism, taking advantage of Mousavi’s huge popularity.


1:35 pm: There is a high quality video showing major violence at Shiraz University. At one point the camera man yells at security forces and pleads with them not to beat an old lady but they do so anyways. The video shows people calling security forces traitors, mercenaries, and other insults

1:28 pm: More news from iranbaan:

Channel 2 of Iran State TV is showing some “confessions” of students who have been arrested. One of the arrested students has said on state TV that he had been in contact with an MEK [Mujahadin-e Khalq] member in England, who ordered them to start unrest.

Due to today’s unrest in Tehran and other cities, Mousavi has decided not to publish today his address to the Iranian public.

1:22 pm: More video from facebook of street demonstrations from today. Our translation of what the crowd is chanting:

“I welcome death
I welcome death
But not subjugation
But not subjugation”

We were not seeing things like this a few days ago.

1:18 pm: Very gruesome video of a girl shot by Basij in Tehran today. Translation from Facebook:

Basij shot to death a young woman in Tehran’s Saturday June 20th protests At 19:05 June 20th Place: Karekar Ave., at the corner crossing Khosravi St. and Salehi st. A young woman who was standing aside with her father watching the protests was shot by a basij member hiding on the rooftop of a civilian house. He had clear shot at the girl and could not miss her. However, he aimed straight her heart. I am a doctor, so I rushed to try to save her. But the impact of the gunshot was so fierce that the bullet had blasted inside the victim’s chest, and she died in less than 2 minutes. The protests were going on about 1 kilometers away in the main street and some of the protesting crowd were running from tear gass used among them, towards Salehi St. The film is shot by my friend who was standing beside me. Please let the world know.

12:52 pm: Iranian Americans who attended the demonstration this morning in DC are reporting that, out of fear of being harassed when they go back to Iran, Iranian Americans have started changing their names on their social networking pages.

12:43 pm: Iranian state media reportedly lying about what Obama is saying:

This morning a friend of NIAC who gets Iranian Satellite TV here said that state-run media showed President Obama speaking about Iran this morning. However, instead of translating what he actually said, the translator reportedly quoted Obama as saying he “supports the protesters against the government and they should keep protesting.

Assuming this report is correct, it shows the Iranian government is eager to portray Obama as a partisan supporting the demonstrators.

12:29 pm: Iranbaan:

In Shiraz, at Daneshjoo Square, there is great unrest.

Mirhossein said amongst the people: We have learned from our fathers that the blood of the innocent shall fall upon the guilty.

12:20 pm: Via Huffington

Reports: Embassies accepting injured Iranians. Several reports on Twitter report that the Australian, British, and Dutch embassies are taking in Iranians injured during today’s violence.

12:17 pm: Iranbaan: (Translated by Ali S.) Mousavi, speaking among the people, has just announced that he has performed the ceremonial washing (ablutions) in preparation for martyrdom

موسوی دقایقی پیش در میان مردم اعلام کرد: من غسل شهادت کرده ا

Motorcycle riders are chasing protesters from alley to alley and are severely beating them.

11:37 am: Iranbaan: Mousavi is speaking among the people now at the beginning of Jeyhoon Street.

فوری: میرحسین موسوی در میان مردم و در ابتدای خیابان جیحون در حال سخنرانی است

11:21 am: People Chanting “Marg Bar Khameini” (“Death to Khameini”)


Translation by Nikta:

[Policemen retreating from the crowds. Cameraman repeats what the people in the streets are yelling: “Marg bar Khameini”]

“The cops ran into the garage.” Laughter.

“Who are they cursing? Marg bar Khameni? Wow, the people.”

“The wave of trash are now coming.”

“Looks like they have [indiscernible]

(It can be assumed that the people taking the video do not view the demonstrators highly.)

11:20 am: A reader comment:

“The garden of Love is GREEN without limit and yields many fruits other than sorrow and joy.” — Jelaluddin Rumi

11:19 am: If this is true, and it corresponds to other things we have heard since Khamenei’s sermon, we are entering a very different phase. Iranbaan says (translations by Ali S. and Sanaz):

“Worrisome news is coming from Shiraz, Tabriz and Esfehan.”

In response to the violence of the security forces, people are now beginning to shout “Death to Khamenei”

Another twitter, Iranelection, says the demonstration “has turned into scattered street fights parallel to Enghelab-Azadi Sq”

10:49 am: Incredible video from BBC Persian showing violence in the streets and shootings from the rooftops today. Readers who know Persian/Farsi can watch BBC streaming live here.

10:49 am: More from Twitter (Translated by Ali S.):

Commander Radan [Tehran police chief] is on the news threatening activists and news reporters.

Press TV just announced that Mousavi and Karroubi will be held accountable for any casualties today #iranelection

Most of the people in the streets are carrying Qurans

The protests have turned very violent in the streets from Enghelab to Azadi, and has been extended to Setar Khan area. It has been rumored that one person has been killed

“I, in the name of a reporter am saying that the bomb at Imam Khomeini shrine was not the work of a terrorist but the work of the regime itself.”

“This type of activity [regime bombing shrines] has a long precedent. A while back, a bomb exploded at the Imam Reza Shrine in Mashhad and some people were killed. They caught someone and made him confess on television. But later it became clear that the bombing had been the work of the Intelligence Ministry. And now they’re doing the same thing in order to give an excuse to crush the people.”

“People are throwing stones at the anti-riot police and plain clothes militia”

“Because of the harsh treatment by the plain clothes militia and security forces, protesters are shouting harsher slogans”

10:14 am: Video from Azadi Square today


9:54 am: Al Jazeera:

Iranian police have reportedly used tear gas and water cannon against thousands of people gathering to protest against the disputed re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s president.

Al Jazeera’s Alireza Ronaghi, reporting from Tehran, said there were reports that riot police had been deployed to every major square in Tehran.

We hear that in some of the main squares in northern Tehran, the riot police and plainclothes forces outnumber the people – let alone the Revolution Square, which was supposed to be the main point where apparently the protesters were going to begin their protest,” he said.

“They have started to impose their presence on the crowd, then they’re going to start to restrict the presence of the people by pressing them back.

“Now it is tear gas, I’m sure it won’t take them very long to start using other kinds of ammunition.”

9:51 am: Still more from twitter:

Appears plain clothes police in Vanak Square are mostly 15-16 year olds.

9:50 am: More from Iranbaan:

Arabiya TV quoted Fars news agency announced the shrine of Imam Khomeini in Tehran is exploded

the blast in khomeini’s grave was the work of a shoe-bomber.

This report should be viewed with some skepticism. It could be a pretext for the use of force against demonstrators.

9:25 am More from Iranbaan

Translated courtesy of Ali:
at Enghelab, they plan on using tear gas and water hoses and batons to stop the protesters

police and plain clothed militia are blocking the first wave of the protesters

the arrests by plain clothes militia and anti-riot police has begun at enghelab

پلیس و لباس شخصی ها جلوی تشکیل هسته اولیه تظاهرات را گرفته اند و مردم را محاصره کرده ان

خیابانهای اطراف کاملا مسدود شده و نیروهای انتظامی به مردم اجازه نمی دهند به تجمع کنندگان بپیوندند

از هم اکنون بازداشت های گشترده در انقلاب شروع شده و بسیاری از مردم توسط لباس شخصی ها و گارد ضد شورش بازداشت شده اند

9:11am More from Iranbaan:

Intense clash in Enghelab

iranian tv reports mousavi and karoubi announce today’s march has been canceled. this is a downright lie.

The rally of Silente continues today in Iran. Some witnesses are reporting gunshot in Azadi St.

Mohsen safaei Farahani, another reformist top-figure, arrested

Mobiles in the Enghelab area have been cut off

enghelab sq and the streets are filled with police and plain clothes with batons in hands #iranelection

9:00 am Reuters: Riot Police Blocking off Protests Site

Iranian riot police were deployed in full force in central Tehran on Saturday, blocking off an area where supporters of defeated election candidates had planned a protest rally around 4 p.m (1130 GMT), a witness said.

The witness, who declined to be named, said riot police were preventing people approaching a main street near Tehran University, where demonstrators had planned to gather.


Posted By NIAC

    14 Responses to “The latest from Iran – Saturday”

  1. Wordsmith says:

    They’re not saying something like ‘with trash in their hands’ rather than the people are trash?

  2. Gene says:

    Moussavi’s open letter translated in English here.

  3. Bride of Iran says:

    Hello. Thank you for your continued coverage. Just wanted to let you know that the pic posted on top right now (riot police gassing people) is not from today. It was posted two days ago here: http://twitpic.com/7qs4t.


  4. IranAA says:

    I propose that outside Iranians (and non-Iranians for that matter) show our support and unity by wearing black during this extraordinary period.

  5. Muddletoes says:

    The statement attributed to the Assembly of Experts was actually made by Mohammad Yazdi, the deputy leader, according to Nico Pitney’s sources. It was signed by him only.

    The original in Farsi (which I cannot read) is here:

  6. My prayers and support go out to all the brave and courageous Iranians who are standing up to tyranny and fighting for democracy! May GOD protect you and May GOD Bless you!

  7. Nicole says:

    We should all stand up & support them. Wearing black & maybe a green wrist band or ribbon, maybe? We got to show our support somehow. The voices need to be heard, not punished for it!

  8. Tina says:

    Larijani criticizes Guardian Council, IRIB

  9. Muddletoes says:

    The statement attributed to the Assembly of Experts was actually made by Mohammad Yazdi, the deputy leader, according to Nico Pitney’s sources. It was signed by him only.

    The original in Farsi (which I cannot read) is here:
    BTW I love your blog!

  10. m0k3d says:

    I am running a poll to see how Obama might handle a similar protest here in America?

    Vote here,

  11. علی says:

    مرگ بر منافق

  12. The Reader says:



    “Freedom of Expression”
    UNESCO promotes freedom of expression and freedom of the press as a basic human right
    Promoting Freedom of Expression, Press Freedom, Independence and Pluralism of the Media, Democraty, Peace and Tolerance
    UNESCO promotes freedom of expression and freedom of the press as a basic human right, through sensitization and monitoring activities. It also fosters media independence and pluralism as prerequisites and major factors of democratization by providing advisory services on media legislation and sensitizing governments, parliamentarians and other decision-makers.

  13. the new wave says:

    The Working class of Iran must rise to the occasion, when the capitalist establishment under cover of ‘Islamic Republic’ faces an acute crisis, resulting in dog-fight between its two factions led by-Ahmadinejad and Mousavi. Working class must take the initiative in its hands and must give the anti-establishment protests its own agenda, an independent and real pro-people, radical agenda. Those who hold back themselves at this juncture, are not revolutionaries, but pedantics and traitors to the cause of revolution.

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Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
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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.



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