• 10 August 2009
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • Human Rights in Iran

ICHRI: Iran Torture and Ill-Treatment Systematic

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran just issued a statement about efforts by some Iranian government officials to downplay reports of extensive human rights abuses:

Iran: Torture and Ill-Treatment Systematic, Not Result of “Negligence” and “Carelessness”

Independent investigation urgently needed to establish the truth

(10 August 2009) While Iranian authorities have claimed that abuse of detainees arrested for participating in peaceful demonstrations, or simply on the basis of their political beliefs, has been the result of “negligence” and “carelessness,” the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said the abuse was systematic and reflected a policy of suppressing dissent, intimidating the population, and corroborating charges by producing false confessions.

“Instead of show trials of innocent people, there should be prosecution of those responsible for torturing them, and for the shootings, beatings, and ill-treatment that have resulted in numerous deaths on the streets and in detention, “stated Aaron Rhodes, a spokesperson for the Campaign.

Two Iranian officials, Prosecutor General Ghorban Ali Dorri Najafabadi and Police Chief General Ismail Ahmadi Moghaddam, have acknowledged the abuse of prisoners in Kahrizak prison. The head of the facility and three guards have reportedly been dismissed.

Documentation assembled by the Campaign and other human rights organizations, as well as credible media accounts, show that the abuse of prisoners has not been limited to the Kahrizak prison.  It has also taken place at Evin prison and in other detention facilities in Tehran and elsewhere in Iran.

The abuse of detainees has been widespread, affecting as many as 2,500 persons who have been detained. The Campaign has reviewed reports by numerous detainees, many of which have been collected firsthand by the Campaign. Virtually all these reports include descriptions of treatment that is classified as torture and ill-treatment under international law.

The widespread torture of detainees in numerous detention facilities has been confirmed by photographic evidence, reports by family members who have seen evidence, as well as by released detainees who were tortured and those who witnessed torture. In some cases, officials have made references to deliberate torture.

“These grave, deliberate human rights abuses were certainly not limited to Kahrizak, and no one should be satisfied by limited, strategic, and clearly cosmetic admissions,” Rhodes said.

The Campaign stressed the urgency of an impartial and detailed investigation to reveal the depth of systematic and widespread abuses and to hold those responsible accountable. The Iranian parliament [Majlis] has formed a committee that has been tasked with such an investigation.

The Campaign urged that the parliamentary committee be allowed unfettered access to all detention centers and detainees. It also called on this committee to invite independent lawyers and human rights defenders to assist it with its investigation. The Campaign also continues to call on the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights (HCHR) to send special envoys to Iran to document and investigate systematic and widespread killings and torture that under international human rights law are considered crimes against humanity.

“As long as there is no independent domestic investigation with a credible international component by the UN HCHR, the truth will not be known and justice will not be served,” Rhodes said.

Posted By David Elliott

David Elliott is the Assistant Policy Director at the National Iranian American Council.

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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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