• 22 October 2009
  • Posted By Matt Sugrue
  • Diplomacy, Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) condemns the Iranian Justice Ministry’s decision to sentence Iranian American Kian Tajbakhsh to 12 years in prison. On July 9, Mr. Tajbakhsh, a scholar of urban planning, was arrested at his home in Iran.

Mr. Tajbakhsh appeared at the mass trial of accused opposition leaders following the unrest of the highly questionable June 12 election. He was accused of contacting foreign agents and promoting activities dangerous to the government. During the trial, Mr. Tajbakhsh provided a vague confession which rights groups suspect was coerced, and which outlined his role in fomenting resistance to the June election in Iran.

NIAC stands behind the efforts of the United States to secure the release of Mr. Tajbakhsh, and strongly urges the Obama administration to intensify its efforts until Tajbakhsh’s rights are respected and upheld.

According to Amnesty International, many of the individuals charged alongside Mr. Tajbakhsh were not given adequate access to legal representation during their trial, and were intimidated into giving confessions that were the basis for their sentences. Thus far, the few other figures who have been convicted in the mass trial have received sentences of 5-6 years maximum.

NIAC holds that the conviction and sentencing of Mr. Tajbakhsh and the post-election trials are an affront to universal principles of justice. Over the past few months, the current government in Iran has violated the human rights of its citizens in direct conflict with its obligations under international law and the Iranian constitution. NIAC is deeply concerned that the Iranian government is targeting foreign nationals for political reasons.

The Iranian-American community is gravely concerned about the state of human rights in Iran since the violent crackdown on post-election protests this summer. Iranian Americans are united in their desire for the Iranian government to uphold its international obligations, including respect for freedom of speech, assembly and association under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. NIAC welcomes the release of journalist Maziar Bahari, and calls on the Iranian government to release all those still in detention for peacefully expressing their beliefs.

NIAC calls on the Obama administration to address this issue during talks with Iranian government.

Posted By Matt Sugrue

    2 Responses to “NIAC Condemns Prison Sentence for Iranian American Scholar”

  1. Pirouz says:

    Why hasn’t the NIAC officially condemned the terrorist attack in Baluchistan? Or at least offered a condolence of any kind to the victims and victims’ families of this act of terrorism.

    Don’t the tribal Baloch-Iranian elders matter? Or the Iran-Iraq war heroes who, while still actively serving their country, lost their lives in this senseless act of cowardice?

    Just because these victims represent concerned citizens of Iran’s political establishment, does not mean they should be ignored.

    Come on, Trita. Politics didn’t separate Americans on 9/11. They shouldn’t separate Iranians for last Sunday’s terrorist act in Baluchistan.

  2. Roya says:

    NIAC is an organization dedicated to the interests of Iranian Americans and represents (transparently) the wishes and desires of its membership. Kian Tajbaksh is an Iranian American, which explains NIAC’s stance in this case and the wishes of its membership. I would like to hear NIAC’s response – I really don’t particularly understand the linkage you are making between the terrible acts in Baluchistan and Iranian Americans’ desire to see one of the community freed.

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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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