• 17 November 2009
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • 0 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

PBS: A Death in Tehran

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Check your local listings.

At the height of the protests following Iran’s controversial presidential election this summer, a young woman named Neda Agha Soltan was shot and killed on the streets of Tehran. Her death — filmed on a cameraphone, then uploaded to the web — quickly became an international outrage, and Agha Soltan became the face of a powerful movement that threatened the hard-line government’s hold on power.

With the help of a unique network of correspondents in and out of the country, FRONTLINE investigates the life and death of the woman whose image remains a potent symbol for those who want to keep the reform movement alive. The film also explores a number of unanswered questions in the aftermath of the greatest upheaval in Iran since the 1979 revolution: How many were arrested and killed as the security forces attempted to contain the growing protest movement? To what extent was the presidential vote manipulated? What is the future of the movement that seems to have been silenced?

Read the official press release after the break.

Press Release

FRONTLINE INVESTIGATES THE CONTROVERSIAL IRANIAN ELECTION AND THE DEATH OF ONE YOUNG PROTESTER SEEN AROUND THE WORLD

FRONTLINE Presents
A DEATH IN TEHRAN
Tuesday, November 17, 2009, at 9 P.M. ET on PBS

www.pbs.org/frontline/tehranbureau/deathintehran

At the height of the protests following Iran’s controversial presidential election this summer, a young woman named Neda Soltan was shot and killed on the streets of Tehran. Her death–filmed on a camera phone, then uploaded to the Web–quickly became an international outrage, and Soltan became the face of a powerful movement that threatened the hard-line government’s hold on power.

In A Death in Tehran, airing Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2009, at 9 P.M. ET on PBS (check local listings), FRONTLINE revisits the events of last summer, shedding new light on the life and death of Neda Soltan and the movement she helped inspire.

In response to the international outcry over Neda’s death—including President Obama’s confirmation that he’d seen the “heartbreaking” video on YouTube–the regime set about attempting to rewrite the story, pointing a finger at the CIA and outside agitators, the same forces they blamed for the mass street protests and allegations of vote rigging that led to the greatest upheaval in Iran since the revolution of 1979. FRONTLINE uncovers some video of Neda’s killer–a member of the Basij militia who’d been brought into Tehran by the regime’s Revolutionary Guards to stamp out the “Green Revolution. ” A medical doctor in the crowd who had watched Neda die now watched as the crowd considered its own violence against the Basij militia member:

“They started to discuss what to do with him, ” the doctor recalled. “They grabbed his wallet, took out his ID card and started shouting, ‘He is a Basiji member; he is one of them,’ and started swearing and cursing him, and he was begging for people not to harm him or kill him. … They believed the police wouldn’t do anything to him as the Basiji are really powerful and he would have easily have got away, so in all of the chaos they decided to release him. ”

The Iranian government admits 11 protesters were killed on June 20, but doctors from three Tehran hospitals confirmed at least 34. Other bodies were buried by security forces without first being identified. In October, the regime tried to script the end of the story for Neda. But instead, Neda’s mother made a very public stand. The government offered her financial help if she would blame Neda’s death on opponents of the regime. All she had to do was to agree to call Neda a “martyr ” for the Islamic Republic. But she refused, telling FRONTLINE: “Neda died for her country not so I could get a monthly income from the Martyr Foundation. If these officials say Neda was a martyr, why do they keep wiping off the word ‘martyr’ which people write in red on her gravestone? ”

A Death in Tehran is produced in partnership with Tehran Bureau, a unique online source of independent reporting, essay and comment on Iran. Tehran Bureau’s popularity during the post-election protests prompted FRONTLINE to partner with the site in order to stay on top of one of the major stories of our time and to continue to integrate the Web into FRONTLINE’s public-interest mission by using all platforms to incubate and publish stories.

A Death in Tehran is a Ronachan Film production in association with WGBH/FRONTLINE and the BBC. The producer is Monica Garnsey. The senior producer for FRONTLINE is Ken Dornstein. FRONTLINE is produced by WGBH Boston and is broadcast nationwide on PBS. Funding for FRONTLINE is provided through the support of PBS viewers. Major funding for FRONTLINE is provided by The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Additional funding is provided by the Park Foundation. FRONTLINE is closed-captioned for deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers and described for people who are blind or visually impaired by the Media Access Group at WGBH. FRONTLINE is a registered trademark of the WGBH Educational Foundation. The executive producer of FRONTLINE is David Fanning.

pbs.org/pressroom
Promotional photography can be downloaded from the PBS pressroom.

Press contact
Diane Buxton (617) 300-5375 diane_buxton@wgbh.org

 

 

Posted By Patrick Disney

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Sign the Petition

 

7,349 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.

Sincerely,

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