• 13 August 2009
  • Posted By Matthew Negreanu
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

UN experts warn of prisoner abuse in Iran

From the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights:

Iran: detainees subjected to torture and ill-treatment to extract confessions, warn UN Experts


GENEVA – Three independent United Nations experts expressed their serious concern over reports of detainees being subjected to torture and harsh interrogations to obtain confessions which are being used in the recently started trials at the Revolutionary Court.

Malick El Hadji Sow, Vice-Chairperson of the Working Group on arbitrary detention; Manfred Nowak, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and Margaret Sekaggya, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders said that the accused include lawyers, journalists and other human rights defenders, as well as members of the opposition, who have gone to the streets in protest of the presidential elections held on 12 June.

“No judicial system can consider as valid a confession obtained as a result of harsh interrogations or under torture,” expressed the Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak, stressing the alarm raised by the three human rights experts over consistent allegations of severe practices of torture to obtain confessions.

“These confessions for alleged crimes such as threats against national security and treason must not, under any circumstances, be admitted as evidence by the Revolutionary Court,” added El Hadji Malick Sow, the Vice-Chairperson of the Working Group on arbitrary detention.

No foreign media have been allowed to cover the trials and it is unclear whether the defendants have adequate legal counsel. In addition, many detainees remain in incommunicado detention, without any charges and denied family visits, legal assistance or medical treatment.

Reports of people who have died in custody continue to be received, and their families are given false or contradictory information regarding the cause of their deaths.

This statement follows those issued on 19 June and 7 July, where independent UN experts voiced their grave concern about the use of excessive police force, arbitrary arrests and killings in Iran and called upon the Government to uphold its international human rights obligations.

Posted By Matthew Negreanu

    2 Responses to “UN experts warn of prisoner abuse in Iran”

  1. Sarah says:

    With the Geneva Convention’s anniversary this week, I hope that people are looking at the convention and working on ways to improve it. Because I believe that this type of problem, where people are being tortured and treated badly, no matter who they are, needs to be addressed. Many different media organizations are talking about what would happen if changes were made to the convention check out this interesting video that looks at different perspectives.

  2. Ellie says:

    Sarah, thank you for the link. I agree that the Geneva convention needs to be strengthened.

Leave a ReplyLeave a Reply to Sarah

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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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