• 11 August 2009
  • Posted By NIAC
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009


Contact: Goli Fassihian
Tel: 202 386 6325

Calls on the international community to speak out against systematic abuses against the iranian people

Washington DC – The National Iranian American Council condemns the mass “show trial” of opposition figures and systematic abuse of detainees by Iranian authorities which have led to numerous deaths and injuries in custody. NIAC believes these repressive tactics are aimed at misleading the Iranian public about post-election events and intimidating Iranians from further dissent or activism.

“These show trials add to the long list of violations committed by Iranian authorities,” said NIAC President Trita Parsi. “There should be no illusion in Tehran about where world public opinion stands on these outrageous trials and accusations.”

On August 1, Iranian authorities began a mass “trial” of over 100 individuals, including former vice president, Mohammad Ali Abtahi, and a top reformist figure, Mohammad Atrianfar. The detainees, who appeared in court without the previous knowledge of their lawyers or families, “confessed” to attempting a “velvet coup” in the post-election unrest and claimed they no longer believed the elections were fraudulent.

According to human rights groups, most of these individuals were held incommunicado for weeks, in solitary confinement, with little or no access to their lawyers and families. Family members who were able to see their loved ones told human rights groups that they were in unstable physical and mental condition, and showed signs of torture and drugging.

Iranian-American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh was among the detainees who appeared in court on August 1.

NIAC has called for the immediate release of Mr. Tajbakhsh and all other political detainees.

The confessions made by detainees appear to have been under duress, which is a violation of Iranian and international law. The court proceedings and indictments read by Iranian prosecutors have been sharply criticized by legal experts for having no basis under Iranian or international law.

Leading religious figures, including several Grand Ayatollahs, have declared the court illegal under Islamic law.

The rights to free association, free expression, and peaceful protest are protected underthe  Iranian constitution. Torture and forced confessions are specifically prohibited under the constitution, and trials without legal representation are considered illegal.

The “trial” of detained individuals continued on August 6, including the appearance of dual Iranian-Canadian citizen and Newsweek reporter, Maziar Bahari, French citizen and academic, Clotilde Reiss, as well as local British and French embassy staffers.

Iranian officials have responded to domestic and international condemnation of the “trial” with threats of more prosecutions and accusations of foreign intervention. Members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have also called for the arrest and prosecution of leading opposition leaders, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi, as well as former president Mohammad Khatami – all who continue to speak out against rights violations and are being accused of cooperating with foreign elements.

“This is a shameless attempt to use Iran’s tragic history of foreign intervention to instill fear in the Iranian public for political ends,” said Dokhi Fassihian, a NIAC board member. “What we have witnessed in the past two months is not a foreign conspiracy, it’s a homegrown movement demanding that their votes be counted and their rights be respected.”

Reports of systematic torture and inhumane treatment, including the rape of young men and women in detention, have outraged the Iranian public and led to calls by opposition leaders for accountability. Over the weekend, Tehran’s police chief, Ismail Ahmadi Moghaddam, and prosecutor general, Ghorban Ali Dorri Najafabadi, acknowledged that abuse had occurred in detention facilities. According to reports by human rights groups, the Iranian government has instigated an intimidation campaign to prevent the family members of those who have been detained and killed, human rights defenders, journalists, and lawyers from speaking out about the abuses.

“The Iranian people pursued peaceful, democratic, and legal means to express themselves and participate in their political system. They were met with violence to silence their legitimate demands,” said Fassihian. “Peaceful dissent is not a crime; it is a universal right protected under international law.”

The National Iranian American Council reminds Iranian authorities and all governments around the world that speaking out against human rights violations is an international obligation codified by several international treaties. It is the right and obligation of the international community to show solidarity and support to populations facing severe repression and human rights abuses.

“Human rights are universal rights,” said Parsi. “We call on the international community, governments, United Nations officials, and international human rights organizations to condemn these abuses, assist the Iranian human rights community and closely monitor the situation in Iran,” said Parsi.

Posted By NIAC

    2 Responses to “NIAC Condemns ‘Show Trials’ and Campaign of Repression in Iran”

  1. Pirouz says:

    “The court proceedings and indictments read by Iranian prosecutors have been sharply criticized by legal experts for having no basis under Iranian or international law.”

    This is a generalization. It would be helpful if an expert on Iranian law could provide commentary, especially on procedure, which could explain in detail any and all deviations from Iranian law taking place during these trials.

    Furthermore, a politically neutral commentator is recommended.

  2. euandus says:

    Thanks for your post. I just wrote one about what it means when such brutality is “normalized” by virtue of simply being used on a regular basis…when in fact it ought to be regarded still as beyond the pale. I am providing the link in case you are interested. http://euandus3.wordpress.com/2009/10/25/using-rape-against-political-protesters/

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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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