• 9 August 2009
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Statement on Iran by Engaged Scholars

From Juan Cole:

Statement by 40 Engaged Scholars

Human Beings are Members of a Whole’
Protecting the Iranian Civil Society

Human beings are members of a whole,
In creation of one essence and soul.

If one member is afflicted with pain,
Other members uneasy will remain.

If you have no sympathy for human pain,
The name of human you cannot retain.

–A poem by the Persian poet Sa’adi (1210 – 1290) gracing the entrance of the Hall of Nations of the United Nations building in New York City

If we speak out against the threat of force against Iran (regarding the nuclear conflict) and warn against a military strike, we cannot be silent on the use of force in Iran itself against its own civil society. For solidarity with the civil society and a peaceful order in the region constitute the primary concern of our efforts. If we condemn foreign sanctions against the Iranian people, we deplore all the more domestic sanctions directed at peaceful demonstrators, journalists, trade unionists, professors, students and others. Thereby the government deprives itself from the domestic basis needed against foreign threats.

Not only as individuals but also conjointly as a group of engaged scholars, we want to announce our resolute protest against the brutal clampdown of demonstrators and against the mass arrests, and strongly advise a peaceful dialogue with the civil society. We call upon the government to release all political prisoners of the last few weeks – amongst them many professors – and to seek dialogue with precisely those persons as moderators of the civil society. Freedom of opinion and the right to demonstrate – cornerstones of the UN Charter of Human Rights to which Iran is a signatory – are being massively violated in today’s Iran.

We strongly remind that the state of siege and the continuing threat of force that have emanated from foreign governments once again fatally demonstrate how thereby the space for a democratic development in Iran are being reduced.

At the same time, we deplore the slanted and misleading depictions of the recent events in Iran in some international media. As supporters of the Iranian civil society, we stress the genuine nature of the protests by the Iranian democracy movement. Composed of various societal strata, the demonstrators first and foremost have advocated free elections and freedom of expression.

Also, it is astonishing that precisely those who have supported crippling sanctions and pushed for preventive strikes against Iran whereby civilians have been and would be harmed, suddenly speak about solidarity with the Iranian people. They only will be convincing when they stand up against sanctions and the threat of force and advocate a peaceful dialogue in the region.

Signed by:

1. Dr. Behrooz Abdolvand, Free University of Berlin & Academic Advisory Board of the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII)

2. Prof. Gilbert Achcar, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London

3. Dr. Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London

4. Ahmad Ahgary, Association of Iranian Scientists and Engineers in Germany (VINI)

5. Prof. Mohammad Ala, Persian Gulf Taskforce & Iran Heritage

6. Tariq Ali, writer, London

7. Dr. Katajun Amirpur, Jesuit School of Philosophy in Munich

8. Dr. Matin Baraki, University of Marburg & Academic Advisory Board of CASMII

9. Angelika Beer, Co-Chair of the EastWest Institute’s Parliamentarian Network for Conflict Prevention and Human Security, Brussels

10. Dr. Bettina Bouresh, Archive of the Regional Authority (Landschaftsverband) Rhineland, Germany

11. Reiner Braun, International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA) & Academic Advisory Board of CASMII

12. Prof. Hamid Dabashi, Columbia University

13. Prof. Hans-Peter Dürr, Right Livelihood Award (Alternative Nobel Prize) 1987 & Patron of the International Munich Peace Conferences

14. Prof. Abbas Edalat, Imperial College London & Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII)

15. Ali Fathollah-Nejad, University of Münster & Academic Advisory Board of CASMII

16. Prof. Sasan Fayazmanesh, California State University, Fresno

17. Prof. Ali Gorji, University of Münster

18. Homeira Heidary, “Panorama Hindukush” Festival, Cologne

19. Foaad Khosmood, University of California at Santa Cruz & CASMII International Steering Committee

20. Prof. Mohssen Massarrat, University of Osnabrück & Academic Advisory Board of CASMII

21. Naz Massoumi, convenor of Campaign Iran, London

22. Prof. Georg Meggle, University of Leipzig

23. Prof. Pirouz Mojtahed-Zadeh, Tarbiat Modares University of Tehran & Urosevic Research Foundation, London

24. Tobias Pflüger, former MEP (German Left Party) & Information Agency Militarization (IMI), Tübingen (Germany)

25. Daniel M. Pourkesali, U.S. Board of the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII)

26. Prof. Ahad Rahmanzadeh, University of Bonn & & Academic Advisory Board of CASMII

27. Sanaz Raji, University of Leeds & London School of Economics and Political Science

28. Lt. Col. Jürgen Rose, German Air Force, Munich

29. Prof. Werner Ruf, University of Kassel & Academic Advisory Board of CASMII

30. Prof. Dr. Nader Sadeghi, George Washington University, Washington D.C.

31. Prof. Muhammad Sahimi, University of Southern California, Los Angeles

32. Dr. Sabine Schiffer, Institute for Media Responsibility (IMV), Erlangen (Germany)

33. Dr. Yvonne Schmidt, University of Graz & Academic Advisory Board of CASMII

34. Prof. Ursula Schumm-Garling, Sociologist, Frankfurt

35. Miriam Shabafrouz, German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA), Hamburg

36. Siba Shakib, author & filmmaker

37. Prof. Albert Stahel, University of Zurich & Academic Advisory Board of CASMII

38. Dr. Rainer Werning, political scientist & author (Germany)

39. Kaveh Yazdani, University of Osnabrück (Germany)

40. Azadeh Zamirirad, University of Potsdam (Germany)

Posted By Patrick Disney

    2 Responses to “Statement on Iran by Engaged Scholars”

  1. George says:

    I was personally an ardent supporter of the engagement policy until June 12th elections. How does it make sense to argue that the events surrounding the election and the continued struggle of the Iranian people should not change our approach/policy with Iran? Do you think your statement will be sufficient for the Iranian regime to change course and decide to adhere to the basic principles of Huam Rights? Are you going to pursue the right’s of 30+ who lost their lives simply for wanting their basic civil rights?

  2. Megan says:

    George, you hit the nail on the head.

    Those who advocate policy of engagement in Iran are naive and do not know pathology of current regime psychic. For Iranian regime policy of engagement by the west is a sign of weakness and an affirmation of the regime myth. Those who believe if they talk pretty and walk softly they will succeed in any negotiation with Iran Islamic Republic are buffoons. The only way to save innocent lives and restore democracy and basic civil rights in Iran is to recognize the current system of the government in Iran for what it truly is, a mafia family and that it operates like a drug cartel. If negotiation and policy of engagement has worked with drug cartels then it can work in Iran.

    By the way, the number of people who have lost their lives since June 12, 2009 is close to 100. That is not including those dead bodies kept in morgue. Many people are still given runaround and send to different detention centers and Iranian Kangaroo Revolutionary court for whereabouts of their loved ones. According to Human Rights Organization 2500 people have been detained since June 12 election. Iranians on the ground believe this number is grossly underestimated and it is more close to 5000.
    Incidentally, Human rights abuses did not start after 2009 election but it has been ongoing for 30 years since the inception of Islamic Republic. Men and women have been tortured, raped, and murdered and those who survived physical abuses and served their jail terms are emotionally crippled for life and often rearrested again and again.

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Sign the Petition


7,350 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.



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