• 22 June 2010
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • Human Rights in Iran, UN

When the United States’ efforts to pass new Iran sanctions finally came to fruition just days before the June 12 anniversary of Iran’s dubious presidential elections, some observers concluded that the new sanctions must have been a result of the Iranian government’s atrocious human rights violations.

The Obama Administration encouraged this impression, even though the sanctions push actually came at the expense of concerted action on Iran’s human rights crisis. The day after the sanctions vote Secretary Clinton declared. “The sanctions that were passed by the United Nations yesterday are designed to target those who are behind government actions that have increased human rights abuses, like the Revolutionary Guard.”

The truth is that the U.N. sanctions did not make even a passing reference to Iran’s human rights crisis. The Revolutionary Guards were sanctioned not for their appalling human rights abuses, but for their role in Iran’s nuclear program.

Indeed, the Obama Administration made a conscious decision to forgo a major push on human rights in Iran so as to not distract from the all-important UN sanctions push, according to multiple officials who’ve worked with the Administration on Iran’s human rights crisis.

Continue reading at the Huffington Post >>

Posted By David Elliott

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

    5 Responses to “Obama’s Pursuit of Sanctions Came at Expense of Human Rights”

  1. Pirouz says:

    I don’t get it, David. Are you saying the sanctions would be okay if it included mention of human rights? If so, that would be disappointing.

    Economic warfare against the people of Iran is wrong.

    And is it okay to turn a blind eye to human rights abuses in Egypt and occupied Palestine, and train efforts against Iran simply based upon political expediency in the campaign to demonize the Islamic Republic of Iran?

  2. Iranian-American says:

    Thank you David for the article.

    “And is it okay to turn a blind eye to human rights abuses in Egypt and occupied Palestine, and train efforts against Iran simply based upon political expediency in the campaign to demonize the Islamic Republic of Iran?”

    No it is not okay. I don’t think anyone said it was. Again, completely missing very obvious points.

  3. Iranian-American says:

    Turning a blind eye to human rights abuses in Iran is just as wrong as turning a blind eye to abuses in occupied Palestine. Yet, Pirouz, you seem to strongly support the idea of turning a blind eye to human rights abuses against fellow Iranians. Just curious, where did David say that it is okay to turn a blind eye to human rights abuses in Egypt and occupied Palestine?

  4. Pirouz says:

    Well I-A, let me quote Cyrus Safdari on this:

    “Considering the US’s own terrible human rights record which includes legalized torture, indefinte imprisonment, and extra judicial assasinations which are current policies, and past action such as support for Saddam and his chemical weapons use againt Iran, nevermind continued US alliances with the worst tyrants and human-rights abusing regimes [like Egypt and occupied Palestine] , on what basis does the NIAC think that the US is qualified to “engage Iran on human rights” and what exactly does that mean? Does it mean that the US should press for sanctions etc for ostensible human rights reasons in addition to the nuclear issue?”

    Years ago, I had an email exchange with Trita about this. Personally, I think the human rights issue is used by hawks and the MSM (not NIAC, which I believe to be sincere) as an issue to promote and justify eventual war against the people of Iran. Even sanctions make up economic warfare against the Iranian people.

    Now, again, I’m neither anti-USA or anti-Iran. I strongly advocate rapprochement.

  5. Iranian-American says:

    The quote you provided by Cyrus Safdari does not address my question.

    As with many of your posts, I am puzzled by your seemingly irrelevant response. In this particular case, I’m puzzled as to how you think posting a quote from some other random blogger that states the opinion you have stated numerous time is relevant to my question or anything else in my post.

    You asked David if he thought it is okay to turn a blind eye to human-rights in Egypt and Palestine. Nothing in David’s post suggests that he thinks this is okay. My question to you remains. Did David, in some other post, suggest the US should turn a blind eye to human rights abuses, or did you pull that question out of the blue to (attempt to) make some other point? In the absence of an answer to this question, I strongly suspect you pulled it out the blue.

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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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