• 13 July 2009
  • Posted By NIAC
  • 1 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Iran Updates – July 13

 7:02 pm: NIAC Calls for the Release of Kian Tajbakhsh, an End to Political Detentions and Abuse – NIAC issued this press release earlier today:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 Washington DC – The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) condemns the arrest and imprisonment of Kian Tajbakhsh, an Iranian-American intellectual who was taken from his home in Iran and jailed late last Thursday. NIAC calls for his release and the immediate release of all those who have been arrested and detained for demonstrating in the weeks following Iran’s disputed presidential election.

“Tajbakhsh’s recent arrest is part of an ongoing effort by the government of Iran to silence dissent,” said NIAC President Trita Parsi, “and it shows the Iranian government’s continued disregard for the basic rights of its people in the wake of last month’s election.” NIAC has condemned the use of violence and political detentions against demonstrators in Iran, and called for a new election as the only plausible way to end the turmoil. 

Tajbakhsh was not involved in the current demonstrations, but had been arrested in 2007 along with four other dual citizens on charges of trying to foment a ‘velvet revolution’ against the Islamic Republic. He spent four months in Tehran’s Evin Prison before his was released. Following his release in 2007, he remained in Iran and deliberately avoided politics, his friends and family members say. Tajbakhsh, a Columbia University graduate, taught urban policy at the New School for Social Research in New York City from 1994 until 2001.

According to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, over 240 other prominent Iranian lawyers, activists, journalists, professors, human rights defenders and students have been arrested without charge, and have been taken to undisclosed locations since the demonstrations began.  NIAC has also received many reports of detainees in Iran’s prisons being mistreated, including prisoners being tortured and raped. 

NIAC calls on the Iranian government to restore basic human and legal rights to its prisoners, including a halt to torture and guaranteed access to legal representation in accordance with the Iranian constitution

5:10 pm: Association of Iranian Journalists suing Kayhan editor for defamation – The editor in chief of the state run newspaper, Kayhan, will be put on trial next month for charges of defamation. “This case…was formed by multiple complaints [which accuses Kayhan of] publishing lies with the purpose of creating anxiety among the public and accusations.”

5:09 pm: The official state news agency IRNA praises Ahmadinejad, says his hair turned white prematurely because he “worked so hard for justice”

Ahmadi_aging

4:15 pm: Tehran’s minister of justice: I don’t have data on the detainees – According to Amir Kabir newsletter, the head of Tehran’s Justice Department claimed that he does not have written and formal information regarding the number of detainees.  “So far, I have not been invited to attend the meetings of special committee formed by the head of the judicial branch to investigate the situation of recent detainees and I have not received any communications regarding this matter and I have no information about their work.”

Alireza Avayee has reportedly visited Evin prison twice and said “many of the detainees have been freed and several more are about to be released.”

3:57 pm: According to Kodoom, Iranian Americans have scheduled demonstrations from July 22-24 in front of the United Nations building in New York.

The aim of the demonstrations are to declare support for the green movement in Iran, to denounce the Iranian government’s use of violence arbitrary arrest and torture against the demonstrators, and to bring into light the lack of accountability of the Ahmadinejad government.

Reportedly, these rallies will be attended by many of the popular Iranian personalities living in the United States, such as pop singer Gogosh, Akbar Ganji and many others.

3:12 pm: Raja News claims Ayatollah Montazeri suffering from memory loss – Raja News, which is a strong supporter of Ahmadinejad, claims that Ayatollah Montazeri has been “sick for several months,” suffering from “imbalance and severe memory loss.” Montazeri has been supportive of the demonstrators and has condemned the government’s post-election behavior as contrary to Islam.

According to their reports, statements that are supposedly from Montazeri are in fact being written by other people.  “Mohsen Kadivar, who is outside Iran, along with one of Montazeri’s sons are primarily responsible for creating these fatwas and statements, using Montazeri’s stamp and publishing them through anti-revolutionary media and have probably downgraded Montazeri’s role to a low level political element.”

His son, Ahmad Montazeri, denied the claim and said in an interview with Parleman News that his father is perfectly healthy.

2:59 pm: UANI Calls On New York Area Hotels To Refuse To Host Ahmadinejad – The organization United Against Nuclear Iran issued a statement today calling on New York area hotels to refuse service to the Iranian delegation when they come to the UN General Assembly in September.

“These hotels must join the international community in condemnation of Iran’s illicit nuclear program and for its brutal repression of the Iranian people.  If President Ahmadinejad comes to the UNGA he should stay in the Iranian Mission to the UN as a testament to his international isolation and responsible entities should decline to host the Iranian delegation.”

The group advocates divestment from all companies that do business in Iran until the Iranian government gives up its nuclear program.

2:39 pm: Mousavi legally prohibited from forming a political party, says Kayhan – According to the state run newspaper Kayhan, Mohammad Reza Mir Taj al-Dini, member of the principalist faction has said “in the Islamic Republic system, a person who does not accept the guardianship of the jurist and the Guardian Council is not qualified to form a party.”

The Deputy of the Council for Coordination of the Forces of the Revolution said, “Mousavi must first prove that he does not have enmity and hostility towards the regime and accepts the existing laws and then think about forming a party.”

“I believe that given current circumstances Mousavi wants to impose his illegal words by using partisan force and this in not acceptable and he should not be given a permit.”

Kayhan also quoted the speaker of the Society Loyal to Islamic Revolution who said “creating a party by people like Mousavi whose loyalty to the regime has not been proven is against the constitution.”  Mohammad Azimi added “Mousavi’s behavior after the announcement of election results has risen doubts about his loyalty to the constitution…therefore he is not qualified to form a party.”

1:51 pm: Mahmoud Mirlohi: “Mousavi’s party will be definitely created” – Deputy interior minister for legal and parliamentary affairs of the reform movement, Mahmoud Mirlohi, announced that “Mousavi’s party will definitely be created and he more capable than just retreating against word from a few unauthorized individuals.”

“The opponents (of Mousavi) only accept certain laws and according to their own interpretation and do not recognize laws regarding freedom of assembly, speech … which are the explicit wording of the law.   Therefore, it is natural that they are anxious about the creation of a party by Mousavi.”

“They are trying to close legal channels to the people and now the law has really turned into an instrument in their service.”

12:41 pm: July 17 – Rafsanjani to lead Friday Prayers

July 17th Friday Prayer

Mousavi’s facebook page has released the following statement along with the attached poster: “The Friday prayer will be held by Ayatollah Rafsanjani and will also be attended by Mousavi and Khatami.”

Rafsanjani has not delivered the Friday prayers since the disputed presidential elections.

11:35 am: More on Kian Tajbakhsh’s detention – Time Magazine: U.S. Citizen Living in Tehran Said to Be Arrested

11:24 am: Two of Iran’s Top Clerics Criticize Ahmadinejad for Silence on China’s Muslims – Karroubi’s official newspaper [Persian] reports that two of Iran’s top clerics, Grand Ayatollahs Shirazi and Golpayegani, have criticized Ahmadinejad’s government for its failure to condemn the Chinese government for its violent crackdown of its Muslim population (uighurs).

The grand ayatollahs are “sources of emulation,” a top distinction in Shia Islam.

According to Shirazi, “the political and economical co-operation between Iran and China should not be taken into consideration when our Muslim brothers and sisters are getting killed.”

Hossein-Ali Montazeri and Yousef Saanei are the only Grand Ayatollahs in Iran who have criticized the Iranian government’s crackdown on post-election demonstrations.

Analysis: Iran criticized Italy’s handling of G-8 protesters, but has said little about China. The reason is very clear. China and Iran have deep economic ties, and China has veto power on any possible new sanctions in the UN Security Council. Neoconservatives (and some liberals) often claim that Iran is a deranged, irrational state actor that poses an existential threat to Israel (and thus needs to be bombed). While there is no doubt that Iran poses at least a limited threat to Israel, particularly through its support of Hamas and Hezbollah, Iran’s silence on China’s actions provides yet another example of how Iran is willing to ignore ideology in pursuit of its national and security interests.

10:36 am: Pro-Ahmadinejad MPs: “Representatives who do not believe in the legitimacy of this government are not qualified to be in Majlis” – According to Amir Kabir newsletter, a member of the principalist (hardline) faction in Majlis said “those representatives who deem the government as illegitimate, are not qualified to be in the 8th Majlis.”  Satar Hedayatkhah, a pro-Ahmadinejad MP, added:

“when this group of representatives entered the Majlis they pledged to defend the constitution, and when they stand up against the guardianship of the jurist (the Supreme Leader) and the constitution, they lose their qualification as representatives and in terms of religious law, any rights and benefits they get from the Majlis will be illegal.”

This member of the parliament said that the real legitimacy of the Islamic government comes from god and “people’s votes do not have legitimacy; they only give the Islamic government acceptability.”

10:10 am: AP:  Iran readies package for P5+1 talks – Providing more details on Foreign Minister Mottaki’s statement that we reported on yesterday:

TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran is preparing a new package of “political, security and international” issues to put to the West, its foreign minister said Saturday.

“The package can be a good basis for talks with the West. The package will contain Iran‘s stances on political, security and international issues,” Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told a news conference.

This seems to be Iran’s response to President Obama’s message from the G8 summit last week that the invitation for Iran to join another round of talks will expire in September, after which he will push for more sanctions.

Unfortunately, from Mottaki’s comments, it seems less than certain that Iran is willing to accept the invitation as it was presented to them, and instead would prefer to develop its own package to discuss.  This happened in previous rounds of negotiations, in which both sides presented their own version of a plan to the other, and ignored the other’s requests for a response.  The result was that both sides waited for the other to respond to their proposal, and talks stalled for nearly two years.

9:59 am: According to Tabnak, Mohsen Namjoo an Iranian artist and folk singer was sentenced to 5 years in prison for singing lyrics of the Koran in a modern popular style of Music.

Mohsen Namjoo is very popular in Iran and has made a few concerts around the world including in North American cities.

This is further evidence of the government’s ongoing effort to clamp down on artists and musicians.

12:12 AM: Mohsen Rezaie calls for the opposition’s concerns to be resolved

BBC Persian reports the statement released by former Revolutionary Guards commander Mohsen Rezaie on his website. This message calls for the resolution of the opposition’s concerns soon — warning that if they remain unresolved, the Islamic Republic may disintegrate.

Further, he indirectly criticizes Hassan Firouzabadi, the current commander of Iran’s Armed Forces. Firouzabadi, an Ahmadinejad supporter, recently published a message calling the opposition “the new Monafeqin” (Monafeqin means hypocrites — the government’s epithet for the Mojahedin-e Khalq organization). Rezaie appears to be warning him not to push his claims further, even invoking the specter of a possible civil war.

Today, Iranian society and the armed forces loyal to the Islamic Republic are at odds. The household of the Revolution has fallen under a rain torrent of slander. A minority calls some members of this household “new Monafeqin.” Another minority has given some members of this household the title of Kharijites (the sect that murdered the Shia saint Ali). Don’t you think this is a conspiracy to make Iran’s armed forces start fighting each other and foment civil unrest?

The continuation of the methods that some political actors (presumably the opposition) are using takes us backward and will bring us to defeat — and it has already brought some damage upon us — while if the other faction of political actors (presumably Ahmadinejad supporters) continues their methods of action, they will bring us to a mountain slope of damage.

He lends legitimacy to both sides of the debate in his appeal:

I am convinced that an Islamic Republic without both freedom and religious principles has no significance

Finally, he warns of the possible downfall of the Islamic Republic and mentions:

These questions and discussions regarding the Presidential election’s results affected the entire Nezam [the system].

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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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