‘Mercy’ Period is Over

The NY times reports that Iran’s national police chief, Ismail Ahmadi Moghaddam, issued a warning that the “mercy” phase was over: Iranian authorities would soon begin cracking down even more severely on opposition activities.

The police chief warned that this crackdown would not be limited to protesters but anyone who used technology, such as cellphones, twitter alerts, and e-mails to publicize the street protests.

This proclamation does not come lightly; since the June 12 disputed presidential elections opposition groups have relied heavily upon such technology to help organize their movement. The government has repeatedly tried to block websites and shut down opposition newspapers, and the battle over access to information is a daily struggle.

“After all the evidence we saw on Ashura, our tolerance has come to an end, and both the police force and the judiciary will be confronting them with full force,” Mr. Ahmadi Moghaddam said, according to Iran’s semiofficial news service ILNA.

The December 27th Ashura protests was one of the most violent outbreaks since the initial summer protests, as hundreds of dissidents were arrested and at least 8 were killed. More opposition protests are expected next month during the celebration of the founding of the Islamic Republic.

Posted By Nayda Lakelieh

    3 Responses to “‘Mercy’ Period is Over”

  1. Pirouz says:

    “our tolerance has come to an end, and both the police force and the judiciary will be confronting them with full force,” Mr. Ahmadi Moghaddam said”

    Technically, the IRIPF (ناجا) Commander-in-Chief of the Police is BrigGen Ahmadi-Moghaddam.

    Curious that he is warning of police escalation for 22 Bahman. Tactically, during Ashura the IRIPF appeared at times to be pressed beyond its limitations. I don’t expect a change in the police policy of less-lethal force. Perhaps IRIPF will benefit from increased resources- possibly coming from IRGC? Maybe. Otherwise, I don’t think there’s been enough time or required resources for more intensive training (which does show signs of needed improvement). Likewise, shifts in tactics may be in the offering, particularly in regards to motorized anti-riot platoons in the role of reconnaissance. There were YouTube videos of these small-size units being successfully swarmed and suffering casualties.

    On the other hand, there is room for escalation with regards to Iran’s criminal justice system. While hundreds of protesters have been arrested during the sporadic protests since the June election, in terms of sentencing, actual prison terms have not matched these figures. Perhaps this will change. However, it is not at all certain Iran’s present prison infrastructure is adequate for an influx of potentially thousands of new prisoners. At least a share of the poor prison conditions in June were a result of this deficiency.

    Interestingly, the IRIPF has formally requested an increased budget to meet its new found demands.

  2. Eric says:

    Pirouz must have been jumping in excitement over this news… so “law and order” can return to Iran… Ha!

  3. Guest says:

    Mind you the protesters in California were released after a few hours (I have a friend who was one of the one’s arrested). Majid Tavakoli on the other hand got 8 years.

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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
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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