• 15 February 2011
  • Posted By NIAC
  • 4 Comments
  • Congress, Human Rights in Iran, Legislative Agenda, UN

NIAC applauds Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) and 23 other Senators who today called for the Obama Administration to work with the international community to establish an independent U.N. human rights monitor on Iran when the U.N. Human Rights Council convenes this March. The action taken by the Senators in support of greater international scrutiny of Iran’s human rights abuses comes just one day after thousands of Iranians defied threats from the Iranian government by taking to the streets in solidarity with the people of Egypt and Tunisia and expressing their own aspirations for democracy and rule of law.

The Senators endorsed this action in a letter to Secretary Clinton that was strongly supported by NIAC.

“The establishment of a U.N. human rights monitor is an important, overdue step to address the Iranian government’s abuses,” said Jamal Abdi, NIAC Policy Director. “Iran’s destiny can only be decided by the Iranian people, but as human rights violations continue in Iran, the international community must be loud and clear that universal rights must be respected.”

The Senate letter is critical of the Human Rights Council’s failure to take any concrete measures to address Iran’s human rights situation in the time that has followed Iran’s disputed June 2009 elections. The letter states, “Establishing an independent U.N. human rights monitor charged with monitoring and reporting on Iran’s human rights violations is an important effort to provide some protection for Iran’s human rights and democracy movement.”

NIAC has joined Iranian human rights defenders like Shirin Ebadi and international human rights organizations like Human Rights Watch in calling for the UN to establish an independent human rights monitor on Iran.

“The United Nations has appointed human rights monitors to address human rights crises in other countries, but not in Iran,” said Abdi. “The Iranian people deserve better.”

The following senators signed the letter to Secretary Clinton: Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), Kirsten E. Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-Penn.), Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), and Tom Udall (D-N.M).

Following is the text of the letter:


February 15, 2011
The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Madam Secretary:

As the United Nations (U.N.) Human Rights Council (HRC) prepares to begin its session on March 1st, we urge you to work at the HRC to establish an independent human rights monitor on Iran.

The upcoming session of the HRC marks the sixth session since Iran’s June 2009 elections. While Iran has a long history of human rights abuses, those disputed elections spawned one of the largest popular democracy movements of the 21st Century, and unleashed a subsequent campaign of brutal, systematic human rights violations by Iran’s government. This government-sanctioned repression continues to this day, yet the HRC has failed to take any concrete measures to address the situation.

In January 2011 alone, Iran executed at least 83 people, including individuals rounded up in post-election protests and charged with enmity against God. Human rights defenders, lawyers, and pro-democracy activists continue to be targeted for repression and intimidation by the government.

State-sponsored persecution of religious minorities persists, including the sentencing last year of seven Baha’i leaders to ten years in prison. And three American hikers languished in prison for over a year before being charged, and two remain detained to this day. It is long past time for the HRC to take action to establish a human rights monitor on Iran.

Establishing an independent U.N. human rights monitor charged with monitoring and reporting on Iran’s human rights violations is an important effort to provide some protection for Iran’s human rights and democracy movement. You will remember that from 1984 to 2002, an independent human rights monitor on Iran was in place, and some measurable progress was achieved on human rights over that time. However, this mandate has not been renewed since 2002 and since then the situation in Iran has deteriorated.

It is important that the United States work through multilateral institutions to ensure Iran upholds its international human rights obligations. We commend the Administration’s efforts to engage the international community regarding human rights violations. However, human rights violations by the Iranian government continue unabated. The efforts of the HRC have yet to result in the extension of meaningful protections to the groups and persons being persecuted there.

There is bipartisan support in Congress for the Administration’s commitment to advance human rights causes in Iran. We believe it is essential that U.S. membership on the HRC be utilized this March to take an overdue step to address Iran’s human rights crisis by reestablishing an independent human rights monitor to observe and report on the grave situation in the country.

Thank you for your consideration.

Posted By NIAC

    4 Responses to “NIAC Applauds Senate Call for Human Rights Monitor”

  1. Pirouz says:

    And the Majlis will counter by seeking human rights investigations into US extradition “black sites”, US torture at such sites, the continued operation of Guantanimo and Bagram prisons, drone strikes without UN authorization inflicting civilian casualties….

    Where does all this get us? Just more mutual antagonization, and roadblocks put up to prevent conflict resolution.

    Yeah, that really benefits ordinary Iranians and Americans–not.

  2. J says:

    The latest protester killed by the government: Hamed NourMohammadi, a student at the University of Shiraz

    http://homylafayette.blogspot.com/2011/02/reports-cite-at-least-one-dead.html

  3. Pirouz says:

    I see the NIAC is organizing an event for this, at the Senate Building.

    It really is disappointing to see an Iranian-American council facilitating further roadblocks put into place which prevent improving relations and conflict resolution between the US and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

    Compare this to the success of the Israel lobby. You really have to hand it to those Jewish-Americans and their monumental success in Washington DC. You would never see them attempt to degrade relations between the US and Israel–that would be unthinkable.

    Really makes Iranian-Americans appear to be a small minded, silly people, in my opinion.

  4. Iranian-American says:

    Not surprisingly, I completely disagree with Pirouz. In fact, every Iranian-American I have spoken to supports NIAC’s efforts to hold the Iranian government responsible for human rights abuses against Iranian people.

    Keep up the good work NIAC.

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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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