• 18 November 2009
  • Posted By Matt Sugrue
  • 1 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

“A Death in Tehran”

Frontline’s “A Death in Tehran” has long been billed as a documentary re-visiting the June 20, 2009 murder of Neda Agha Soltan. However, the segment focuses more on those who are still alive, and who carry the emotional scars of those who have both lost a loved one and had their government turned against them. The story examines the heartbreaking stories of those close to Neda, from her sister and boyfriend, Caspian Makan, to Arash Hejazi, the doctor who tried to save Neda, Faranak, a former reporter for PressTV, and Bilba Tavakoli, a friend.

Makan, Hejazi, and Faranak are now living in exile but have been consistently threatened by the Iranian government for speaking out about the circumstances surrounding Neda’s death. Hejazi decided to speak out against the government’s attempts to obscure the truth because

in every life a moment comes that the integrity of some person would be tested. I realized on that day that this was the moment in my life. I had to chose between keeping myself safe or proving my integrity.

Faranak left PressTV when, after the election, she became disillusioned with the station’s coverage of the election and joined the protesters. After being shot in the knee with a plastic bullet, Faranak was taken to the hospital where she witnessed Basij forces storming the emergency room and attacking the patients. If Faranak’s testimony is viewed in conjunction with Ahmadinejad supporter Nader Mokhtari’s forceful statement “we will not lose Iran,” then it becomes clear just how far the current government is willing to go in order to maintain its power.

“A Death in Tehran” includes numerous clips – albeit largely from cell phone cameras – of the protests and government’s reactions. Videos of Basij members firing into crowds of protesters provide some of the most chilling images of the entire documentary. Even if the crowd were attacking the militia and military buildings, it is impossible that the Basij firing from the rooftops were strictly targeting the few violent protesters.

 What they [the Iranian leadership] don’t want to accept, don’t want to understand, this is the people of Iran. Like the Islamic Revolution that was the people of Iran as well; like the Constitutional Revolution. This is the majority of the people who want freedom, who want democracy, who want human rights,

said former Deputy Prime Minister Mohsen Sazegara when discussing the government’s crackdown on the protesters.

With its investigation of the events leading up to and following Neda’s murder, Frontline provides a chilling, insightful account of the ongoing post-election violence that is taking place in Iran.

Posted By Matt Sugrue

    One Response to ““A Death in Tehran””

  1. Reza says:

    I do not believe that Mokhtari was speaking on behalf of anyone. He had been asked by the documentary makers to give his side of the story and he was repeating the information he had. I believe when he said “we will not give up Iran” he was referring to the $4509 million spent by the US to destabilize the country. He made clear he was of the 1979 revolution generation and they understandably do not want another chaotic situation because last time according to Mokhtari’s own words one million Iranians died in a war encouraged by the West. As for Dr Hejazi there is this question that if a bullet had entered Neda’s lung and stayed in her body giving her CPR would have made matters worse because the bullet would then move around inside her chest cavity and cause more damage. Did the young doctor Hijazi panic?

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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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