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

Esha Momeni shares her story


Photo Credit: Jonathan Pobre / The Daily Sundial

Iranian-American student Esha Momeni, who was imprisoned for a month in Iran last Fall and then prevented from leaving the country until last week, described her ordeal to the Daily Sundial, CSUN’s student newspaper.

The entire interview is fascinating, and the story of Momeni’s ordeal certainly is heartwarming.  But perhaps the most amazing part comes from Momeni’s depiction of the past two months, in the aftermath of Iran’s disputed presidential election.

A supporter of candidate Mehdi Karroubi, Momeni said she voted for him because he was the only person who questioned the laws discriminating against Iranian women. She found Mir-Hossein Mousavi, Ahmadinejad’s main competition going in to the election, to be fairly conservative in his viewpoints. However, she said it was clear there was more Mousavi support than there was for Ahmadinejad.

Momeni said she has no doubt that the Iranian people didn’t choose Ahmadinejad.

“You could tell Mousavi supporters were 10 times more than Ahmadinejad supporters. So when the results came out we were all shocked. All of us,” she said. “We were expecting some cheating but not to this extent.”

“On Saturday, the day after the election, we came to the street and we saw people marching down the street and so we joined them,” she added. “In that moment I kind of felt like, I’m relieved. At least I let it out.”

Despite being imprisoned for 28 days and interrogated 19 times, despite the fact that she was surely being watched by intelligence agents everywhere she went, Esha Momeni took to the streets and participated in the post-election protests.

What’s more, just as the government’s crackdown on protesters only stoked the flames of popular outrage even more, the experience of being detained in Iran has only made Momeni more passionate about working for change.

When asked whether this ordeal has made her withdraw from her efforts to increase women’s rights in Iran, Momeni reflected on one of her interrogation sessions.

“One of the interrogators told me, ‘Ms. Momeni, you have a simple flu. And our duty is to prevent it from (becoming) a serious disease.’ I want to tell you that now I have cancer.”

Posted By Patrick Disney

    2 Responses to “Esha Momeni shares her story”

  1. atlatl2 says:

    Great interview. Warning: that cancer is spreading and there is no cure. Khamenei has built a Frankenstein monster, he just doesn’t realize it yet! Thanks again, and thanks to Ms. Momeni for speaking out. This is very important.

  2. Pirouz says:

    I really didn’t find the interview “fascinating”. It provided few details of the womens right movement, as well as tactics of interrogation (it doesn’t sound like they brought a power drill into the cell!) and general conditions of life in the prison.

    Happy to hear she’s back at her studies in SoCal.

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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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