• 24 July 2009
  • Posted By Sanaz Tofighrad
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Victim’s mother speaks out

Parvin Rahimi gave a testimony before Tehran’s City Council members, speaking in detail about the death of her son, Sohrab Araabi, and her painful experience.  Sohrab was a 19 year old who was killed during the protests that happened after the election.  Sohrab disappeared in one of the protests in Tehran.  For about a month, his family did not know what happened to him.  The authorities beat around the bush for weeks before telling his family, who were frantically searching to find him, that he was killed.  Now, despite the threats made by authorities against the families of victims speaking out, Sohrab’s mother broke the silence and gave a testimony before Tehran City Council on July 23, 2009 .

Translation from mightierthan.com:

I ask the City Council, what had my son asked of you? Of the government? Of the country? We just wanted tranquility, liberty, my son was just thinking about who he would vote for, and then asking “Where has my vote gone…?” He asked for nothing more, he was just killed because he was supporter of Mr. Mousavi… for what kind of crime was he killed…? My son was just a 19 year old boy…. He hadn’t yet reached for any of his wishes… I, his mother – day and night I am asking God to put an end to this oppression….

Full transcript and video’s of Parvin Rahimi’s testimony:

With greetings to the Tehran City Council and friends. Please hear my painful story as a resident of Tehran. I lost my son on Monday 25 of Khordad (15 June) during a peaceful rally that was taking place to protest the election results. With the crowds estimated at minimum 3 million, many people were lost and I too lost my son. The mobiles were cut off and I couldn’t reach him – I searched everywhere for him and went back home and found he was not there either so I went back to Azadi Square to keep searching for him. The atmosphere was terrible, so much tear gas everywhere, it felt more like a battle ground and I have been sick ever since with chest problems. I couldn’t find my child and I returned home and together with the sons of my relatives we searched every hospital and police station and we didn’t get a response – my son did not have his ID card with him; he just had a bit of money on him to go and buy test papers at Enghelab Sqaure to prepare for the university entrance exams coming up.

My husband died of brain tumor and was very sick for 4 years prior to his death, so that he could hardly eat. My son was a true companion to me during that time, he was a true nurse alongside me. That night I still did not hear of my son – the next morning when I called 110 (Police call number) and they told me to refer to my local Police station. I went to the local police station and filed a missing person report and they started the search process. No one had the guts to tell me that maybe my son was killed; some people said he is probably arrested and some said he may be injured. I found out that 7 people were killed that day – of those, 5 had been identified and 2 had not. The 2 that had not been identified were apparently older – the sons of my family members went to see the 5 that were identified and they confirmed that none of them was Sohrab. I therefore was relieved to hear that and thought that my son was therefore arrested. I knew that he wasn’t injured because I searched every single hospital – I am aware that some hospitals would not give me a clear answers but others did.

So I headed out for the Revolutionary Court to follow up on his arrest – they told me to return home and I told them I couldn’t – I am a Mother – I couldn’t even eat and to this date I have a hard time eating – my throat just closes up and I have kept myself going through liquids only in the past few weeks. I can’t tell you how much time I spent at the Revolutionary Court, Evin Prison… if I were to write the story it’d make a very thick book. Someone at Evin prison, I am not sure who since they never reveal their names, collected us in the Parking lot and told us: “Those of you who do not see your loved one’s name on the list of detainees not have you received a phone call from them, you must refer to the Revolutionary Court and follow up with them. If your child is due to sit the University entrance exam, tell them that since those detainees are supposed to be freed shortly.” I know that to be true because I spent days and nights at the Revolutionary Court and I did witness them releasing those who were due to sit the University entrance exams. Everyone know me there by now.

I am sorry to take up so much of your time but I have some much to say and please allow me to use someone else’s time if they don’t mind so I can keep talking. So I did all the paperwork to show that my son needs to sit the entrance exam, and my brother was his guarantor and they still have not returned my brother’s ID card that was submitted as part of the paperwork. I faxed these 3 times and they told me my son’s name is not on their list of detainees and I accepted that. But they did say that in certain sections of the prison, they do not necessarily provide a list of names of the detainees – if necessary, I can provide the names of people who told me these things. I kept giving out photos of my son to be taken into the prison as well as his ID card, the photocopy of his birth certificate, the University entrance card – I did everything I could but I didn’t get any response. So on Thursday or Friday, 18th of the month they told me to go to the Revolutionary Court and to not bother coming back to Evin Prison.

I did all the things that I could do, but they didn’t find him and they gave no answer. In the last day, maybe Thursday or Friday,  it was 18th of the month (Persian calendar) that one of the authorities told me you must go to the Revolution Court and don’t come back here again, I went to Revolution Court on Saturday, 20th of Tir, excuse me for saying this, but as usual they insulted me and the other mothers there, telling us: “Why do you come here? There are a lot of young detainees here and they have no problems here, you better go to your home and take rest, because your children are eating and sleeping in our prison!” and they added other expressions, that your son is (unknown word). Or he has given us a wrong name, and some other similar things and more insults that I don’t want to reiterate here.

Let’s forget about these things, they asked me had you gone to Shapour, and I answered yes, I’ve been there, and I had advertised his name, and in Shapour they told me you must come here at Thursday (18 of the month) for tracking his cellphone to find him. Again I stood there till one of authorities came across and I told him that, my son is lost, do you have any answer for me, where is my son that has not called me for 25 days. And I should say that I even went to office of prosecutor, and secretary of his office told me that your son is in Evin Prison. I mean, all the authorities had told me your son is in Evin Prison. And even that he is not in ordinary sections of Evin, he is in special part of it. But I didn’t know yet that he was killed. What had happened was that he was killed…

Then I went to Shapour, he told me that we have a picture of your son, and he showed me my son’s national identity card, and told me that tomorrow we will answer you. Despite that fact, the police, they called me and asked me to go there, I went to police office in Shapour. They asked me to look at the pictures of other dead people to possibly recognize my son, and he told me that he himself will do the cellphone tracking. And I didn’t dare to look at the pictures of the dead people, my other son who is really sensitive and physically weak, went to do this identity recognition, and then he was really late afterwards, I was worried about my (other) son Siamak, and I thought maybe they have arrested even my Siamak here too, and I went to the authorities and asked them now for Siamak, but since he had found a picture of Sohrab among the killed people, he had hidden himself from me, he couldn’t face me and say that Sohrab had been killed. He was shocked, surprised, nervous, his color was turned to white. He couldn’t even talk. I said “There is something in your eyes, tell me what happened” and he finally told me that “Sohrab has been killed”. I asked him why, when, where… now I cant described the suffering I bore there and what happened to me..

Now I just want to know why my son has passed away, is it just for the vote he had given? Or for the protests or whatever else? My 19 year old child who has not yet even been given the entrance examination for his Bachelors Degree, a child who hadn’t yet reached for any of his wishes, is assassinated by whom? And by whose order? and why? I ask the City Council, what had my son asked of you? Of the government? Of the country? We just wanted tranquility, liberty, my son was just thinking about who he would vote for, and then asking “Where has my vote gone…?” He asked for nothing more, he was just killed because he was supporter of Mr. Mousavi… for what kind of crime was he killed…? My son was just a 19 year old boy…. He hadn’t yet reached for any of his wishes… I, his mother – day and night I am asking God to put an end to this oppression….



Posted By Sanaz Tofighrad

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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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