• 14 September 2009
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Karroubi: “What have we become?”

An Iranian activist has translated Karroubi’s latest letter, on Twitter no less. (h/t Enduring America)

The end is particularly evocative when Karroubi asks, “Do they not know that at the end people will [make] their own judgement and will decide who is telling the truth?”

As you know, I as your servant have written several letters to the authorities about the post-election events. I could have never predicted that in the Islamic Republic, they would answer people’s peaceful demonstrations with batons and bullets. I witnessed the unthinkable on the streets and alleyways. I saw scenes that reminded me of my younger years.

As time passed, I heard the news of torture in the prisons and unthinkable acts in unnamed and unknown detention centres and unknown buildings and by unknown people. Detainees were treated with shameful and indecent acts, from making prisoners sit naked across each other, urinating on their faces, to releasing young girls and boys handcufffed in outskirts of the city. As though these were not enough, I started hearing reports of rapes. Three decades after the Revolution and two decades after Imam [Khomeini]’s passing, what have we become?

So I wrote a letter to the authorities asking for an investigation into these matters. Their answer was bombarding me with slanders and threats. The Friday Prayer Imams, by order, across the country slandered me. I told myself, if such atrocities had not happened they should just deny them, but instead from Friday Prayer tribunes and their media they attacked me, so I decided to stand firm.

For example I told them about a person who had been raped. Judicial authorities arranged a meeting. They interrogated this person in two sessions. After the second session, this person told me, “These people are after something else.”

The prosecutor had asked this person to go to the medical examiner’s office. I told him to do it. They continued interrogating this person and told him he should have remained silent for his own and his family’s sake and he should have not allowed some politician to use him. A few days later this young man came to me and said they have gone to his parents and neighbours questioning them. He said his parents didn’t know about the rape and his father has been crying since. The boy left and I didn’t hear from him anymore.

Last Tuesday his father came to visit me saying he is worried for his son. He said, “We are good Muslims, why are they doing this to us?” He said, “They have talked to all our neighbors and shopkeepers around us.” He said that they ring his doorbell constantly and then disappear. He said he has seen a big guy on a motorcycle filming his house.

What they did to this witness became a lesson for me not to introduce any more witnesses to the prosecution.

The second case I brought to their attention with documents was a young girl who had been arrested during a demonstration. She says they played with and touched her breasts in the car on the way to the detention centre. At the centre the interrogators had asked her to remove her pants. She refused. While she was on the floor, the pants were removed. As she was screaming for help, the higher-rank officer came in to enquire. The agents said to him, “This girl has taken her own pants off and is trying to dishonor us.”

The third case was a young person who was a member of a legal political party. The parents contacted me. They already had a CD made & had the medical examiner’s report. This person did not claim he was raped. He said he had passed out during the hard beating he received and does not know what they did to him. He had swelling and redness of the rectum area. The medical examiner confirmed the redness and swelling of the rectum area and suggested the Justice Department should do further investigation on this matter. This person spent five days in detention and was beaten badly. This person was told they were moving him to Evin [Prison], but released him handcuffed and blindfolded outside the city limits.

I had documents for these three cases that I presented to the judicial panel. I verbally informed them of two others. The first was Taraneh Mousavi. I told them her family would not talk to me and asked them to do further investigation to find the truth. The witness to Taraneh’s case has also said her family would not talk to him/her. We witnessed the interview of the fake parents of the fake Taraneh on TV. They had told the fake family not to be concerned with anything and they will take care of everything

Apparently Mehdi Karroubi’s crime was that he had revealed Taraneh’s case, which is similar to the chain murders case. This caused the closing of my newspaper Etemade Melli.

I told them Taraneh’s case as I had heard it. Taraneh and friends were arrested in front of Qoba mosque [probably on 28 June]. The girls decided to pass phone numbers to each other so whoever was released earlier could inform families. During the transfers between places, one girl realized Taraneh was not among them. This girl, after her release, contacted Taraneh’s family and the authorities to inform them that Taraneh was missing. Apparently Taraneh’s mother was quite scared and told this girl not to contact her anymore. I asked the three-member panel to investigate this case and find the truth behind all of this.

[Then Karroubi goes thru a lot of discussion of Saeedeh Pouraghai, saying he realized she was not the daughter of a martyr and explains his conversations with Saeedeh’s stepsister. He also talks about finding out that this girl has been a runaway. He than talked about giving all information on Saeedeh and asks the panel to investigate further.

He then talks of an incident about a girl that had been arrested during a demonstration. The girl told him she and another girl had been raped in a van on the way to the detention centre. The girl asked Karroubi not to reveal her identity for if her parents find out she will commit suicide.

Karroubi also talks about the case of a nurse with similar stories whose information and picture he did not release. He says the nurse had been raped and she still had bruises on her body.

Karroubi than talks about how well the meeting went with the three-member panel and how they parted happily….]

The very next day, instead of investigating all of these matters I brought to their attention, they arrested [Alireza] Beheshti and [Morteza] Alviri, seized documents from my office and the Etemade Melli party office.

Now that I am quickly preparing this report, I know they just tried to close the mater somehow and fast. They claim I had no evidence and my charges were baseless. The three-member panel has asked the Justice Department to file charges against me. Do they not know that at the end people will do their own judgement and will decide who is telling the truth?

Posted By David Elliott

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

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Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
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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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