• 14 February 2011
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009


On the heels of the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions, large numbers of Iranians defied ominous threats from their government, taking to the streets to express their own aspirations for democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.

The demonstrations were the largest since Ashura in 2009, with the Associated Press and Washington Post estimating that “tens of thousands” of Iranians were in the streets.  While critics of the Green Movement have often tried to portray it as confined to Tehran or even just north Tehran, today’s protests were occurred all across the country.  The BBC reports that there were demonstrations in Isfahan, Mashhad and Shiraz, while Tehran Bureau reports there were also protests in Kermanshah and Rasht.

Chants rang through the streets of Iran, including one proclaiming “Mubarak, Ben Ali, it’s your turn Sayyed Ali [Khamenei]!”

Despite cynical statements of public support for the revolutionary protests in Egypt, the Iranian government deployed thousands of security forces and reacted brutally to the demonstrations in their own country, calling them illegal attempts to stage “riots”.  Opposition leaders Mir Hussein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi were placed under house arrest and prevented from joining the demonstrations, while tear gas was fired into crowds and protestors were arrested and beaten by riot police.  And at least one person is confirmed dead in Tehran, according to the BBC.

No one yet knows if this portends a revival of the demonstrations that rocked Iran’s establishment after the June 2009 elections, but it is clear that while the Green Movement may be bruised and battered, it is in no way dead.  We would all be wise to remember that, regardless of whether Iranians are risking their lives to demonstrate for their rights.

Posted By David Elliott

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

    2 Responses to “Inspired by Egypt, Iran’s Green Movement Shows Its Resilience”

  1. Pirouz says:

    David, the video or pic at the top of the article doesn’t seem to be visible.

    As for “rule of law” many of the videos depicted student types burning refuge containers, disrupting traffic, engaging in vandalism and in one case, assaulting another young person in the crowd. So much for rule of law!

    Most of the crowd size in the videos range from a handful to the lower dozens. There are a couple where the crowd size appears to possibly top 100. “Tens of thousands” appears to be a gross exaggeration judging by the evidence at hand.

    Generally, law enforcement presence appeared restrained. In fact, in many of the videos depicting arson, there is no detectable law enforcement presence.

    We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

  2. Iranian-American says:

    Haha, Pirouz. To put it in your own words, “You are grasping at straws”.

    Given the repression and brutality of the government forces, these protests are truly inspiring.

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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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