• 16 September 2009
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • Diplomacy, Human Rights in Iran

Washington DC – On the announcement of the P5+1 meeting with Iran on October 1 and the initiation of diplomatic talks, the National Iranian American Council issued the following statement.

On October 1, the P5+1, consisting of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany, are scheduled to begin talks with Iran. The National Iranian American Council strongly urges that human rights play an important role in these talks. NIAC continues to believe that diplomacy with Iran is the right path to pursue as it has the highest likelihood of resolving US-Iran tensions over the nuclear issue, but it would be a mistake to engage with Iran without including human rights on the agenda.

Iran’s deep political divisions following the election violence and widespread human rights abuses raise questions about the country’s ability to deliver on any negotiation. Delaying diplomacy until there is greater political clarity would have been preferable. But in the absence of that, it is all the more important to include human rights on the agenda.

Failing to raise human rights in the talks would send the Iranian government a dangerous message of international indifference to the plight of the Iranian people. The P5+1 meeting provides a critical platform to press the Iranian government on its abysmal human rights record.

NIAC believes that Iran’s human rights record is no less pressing or important than its enrichment program in rehabilitating the country into a responsible and constructive actor in the global community.

Posted By David Elliott

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

    9 Responses to “NIAC Calls for Human Rights to be Included in Diplomacy with Iran”

  1. john says:

    Yeah, negotiations will be great with Ahmadi and Khamenie. It will work, exactly the way it has worked with the people who have opposed them for the election.

    When will NIAC say no war no negotiations and only support the civil disobeance movement for a secular democracy. Then NIAC can say the represent the people.

  2. Megan says:

    John, NIAC is deaf.

  3. Ali says:

    If only that were possible, John. But the Israelis aren’t that patient. Here’s an example op-ed in today’s Jerusalem Post: “The time for diplomatic experimentation is up.”

    ie — Let’s go bomb already!

    Talks are going to happen, starting Oct. 1. That question being settled, human rights should be on the agenda.

  4. Arash Irandoost says:

    Where has NIAC been for the past 12 years? I thought NIAC was not a human rights organization? Why the shift all of a sudden?

  5. parvin irandoost says:

    Dear NIAC – Since you obviously have a voice in Washington and since you consider yourself to be speaking on behalf of the Iranians, then I suggest that you listen a little more carefully to what people of Iran are really saying. THEY WANT A REGIME CHANGE. How much louder can they say that? You need to advice the US officials to side with people of Iran and help them bring about a democratic system of government by not appeasing this criminal government. STOP SUPPORTING THIS GOVERNMENT.

  6. James says:

    Parvin, Supporting diplomacy doesn’t equate to supporting or recognizing the government. Sometimes bad options are the only ones.

    Arash, NIAC’s mandate from its members was recently expanded on human rights: http://www.niacouncil.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1482&Itemid=142

  7. Arash says:

    What was the motivation? Why the shift all of a sudden? For 12 years, NIAC has portrayed the Iranian regime as a victim rather than partly responsible for the Middle East turmoil and has presented Israel as the main entity responsible for the impasse in Iran-US relations. In fact, NIAC havs “used” the Israeli decoy as an important part of their overall campaign to lift the pressure off the Iranian regime.

  8. Yari says:

    In the history of Iran, there were never shortage of Traitors!
    Yari Jan

    What has hapened? The money has dried up? Have no fear soon the Mullah Masters will be gone and all of you will be truly orphans!

    It is not easy to be a taritor!

  9. James says:


    I was confused by your comment about twelve years at first, but now it makes sense. I believe you’re talking about a different organization – the American Iranian Council (AIC) based in NJ – which was started 12 years ago.

    NIAC is an unaffiliated group that was formed in 2002.

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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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