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Why Do We Need to Stand Up to the MEK?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttVUXDF717U]

The push to remove the MEK from the U.S. list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations is intensifying in Congress and in pro-war circles in Washington.

A vote is coming before the House Foreign Affairs Committee this week on whether to endorse removing the Iranian Mujahedin from the U.S. foreign terrorist organizations lists.  This would enable it to operate freely and even receive U.S. funding for renewed attacks in Iran.

And John Bolton and Daniel Pipes, who have openly called for the U.S. to bomb Iran, have recently ratcheted up their calls for the MEK to be taken off the terrorist list.

Supporters of the Mujahedin don’t care that the group has no support in Iran. They favor the Mujahedin because it uses violence and terror.

We are standing up to the Mujahedin for three reasons:

1) Delisting the Mujahedin and unleashing its violence would be a major blow to the non-violent, pro-democracy movement.

As Iranian-Americans, we more than anyone else should know from experience that violence can defeat a dictator, but it cannot give us democracy. We have to break the cycle of violence, not perpetuate it.

2) Delisting the Mujahedin would unleash a major force for war.

For years, the Mujahedin have lobbied for the US to attack Iran and to help install MEK leader Maryam Rajavi into power.  We’ve seen how effective they have lobbied for war even while they are a designated terrorist organization.  De-listing them will be a major boost to their lobbying campaign to start a US-Iran war.

3) Delisting the Mujahedin threatens the free, peaceful voices of the Iranian-American community

For years, the Mujahedin have smeared and defamed anyone and any group who differed with them, including Iranian-American organizations and even individuals like Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi.

As Iranian Americans, we have the ability and responsibility to help break the cycle of violence that has engulfed Iran.  NIAC is the only organization standing up to prevent this from happening.

But we need your help.

Join us in taking a stance for non-violence, democracy and human rights.

Donate $100 today for our efforts to prevent war, protect the pro-democracy movement and break the cycle of violence.

MEK’s attempts to hijack the Green Movement

The Mujahedin-e Khalq campaign to be removed from the U.S. list of Foreign Terrorist Organization’s has been fueled by plenty of misinformation.  One big lie that MEK has spread in Washington is that the group is popularly supported in Iran and is the “main opposition.”

This attempt to hijack Iran’s indigenous Green Movement is nothing new.

In his recent book, Then They Came For Me, journalist Maziar Bahari provides a fascinating account of his experience covering the 2009 elections in Iran and their aftermath, and the detention and abuse he endured when he was arrested and detained for 118 days in Evin prison.

Before his arrest, Bahari covered the massive protests and witnessed firsthand how “MEK sympathizers had acted as agents provocateurs among the protestors, inciting violence” during the peaceful demonstrations.

Bahari writes that, during the June 13 demonstration, “The Basijis…normally so rash and confrontational—were clearly intimidated by the sheer size of the crowd.”  But as he worked his way through the masses, Bahari heard shots ring out.  A small group of MEK sympathizers were attacking a Basij building with Molotov cocktails:

“Before long, the Basijis stopped firing warning shots and began shooting indiscriminately into the crowd of protestors.  The two Basijis on the roof did not seem to care if the people they were shooting at were attackers or passerbys.  Many peaceful demonstrators in the crowd panicked and started to throw stones at the compound.”

Bahari describes how one of the men attacking the base was shot and killed by the Basijis.  Ultimately 7 people were killed in the attack, and the violence rippled through the nonviolent protests.

“As the Basij started to spread bullets into the crowd, as people scrambled to take cover as bloodied people ran out of the street, and as MEK supporters started to chant, “Death to the Islamic Republic,” I continued to film.

“Hush. Be quiet!  Change the slogan!  Allahu akbar! God is great!” screamed a couple of older men trying to get the crowd out of the street.  “We haven’t come here to say, ‘Death to the Islamic Republic.’”

“We here to support Mousavi,” said another woman.  “Not fight!”

A small group of young men approached a few of the older men who were trying to calm people down.  “Kafeh shin madar saga!” one said, throwing punches at an older man.  “Shut up, you sons of bitches!”  The crowd erupted into a brawl.

“Death to Khamenei!” cried a teenager as he joined the others hitting the older men.  I turned my camera toward him.

Bahari goes on to describe the reaction among Green Movement leaders:

Mousavi was quite upset about the attack, but he was not going to let terrorists hijack the green movement—which was how the support for Mousavi was becoming known.  Mousavi had decided to tell his supporters to take to the streets one more time and avoid any confrontation with the police and the Guards that could provoke further violence.

Bahari subsequently published an article in Newsweek on the incident, “Who’s Behind Tehran’s Violence?  Opposition supporters worry about their movement being hijacked.”  The piece, which came out just days before Bahari was arrested, quotes a peaceful demonstrator:

“I think some small terrorist groups and criminal gangs are taking advantage of the situation.  Thirty years after the revolution and 20 years after the war, the majority of Iranians despise violence and terror. My worry is that if the government doesn’t allow reforms to take place, we will fall into a terrorism abyss like the years after the revolution.”

Bahari writes:

“The supposed reelection of Ahmadinejad was a gift to such groups. On their Web sites they claim that the alleged rigging of the vote has revealed the true face of the regime. (Like some Israeli commentators, they argue that the victory of a moderate like Mousavi would actually extend the life of the regime.) It is true that in the past, whenever hardliners have intensified their grip, these groups have gained more support. They reacted angrily when pro-reform Mohammad Khatami was elected president in 1997.”

The vast majority of Iranians don’t want these groups to have any part in their movement for democracy.  They continue to be wary of attempts by violent groups to “hijack” their movement and risk reigniting a vicious cycle of violence that would undermine well over a century of work toward democracy in Iran.  De-listing the MEK would do just that.

  • 8 July 2011
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • 2 Comments
  • MEK

Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) Factsheet

MEK=TERROR
In a matter of weeks, a terrorist group known as the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) may succeed in getting removed from the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations — not as a result of any change of heart — but as a result of an unprecedented and possibly illegal multi-million dollar media and lobbying blitz.

Iranian Americans know the truth about the MEK, but high-priced public relations and lobbying firms are hard at work trying to whitewash the MEK’s violent and disturbing record. And while they’ve been remarkably successful, they can’t completely escape the truth.  So, for the record, here are the facts about the MEK (you can find this and more at www.mekterror.com):

  • The State Department reports the MEK is a terrorist group that has murdered innocent Americans and maintains “the will and capacity” to commit terrorist attacks within the U.S. and beyond. [1]
  • The MEK claims to have renounced terrorism in 2001, but a 2004 FBI report states “the MEK is currently actively involved in planning and executing acts of terrorism.” [2]
  • RAND and Human Rights Watch have reported that the MEK is a cult that abuses its own members. [3] [4]
  • MEK has no popular support in Iran and has been denounced by the Green Movement, Iran’s peaceful democratic opposition movement.[5]

Iran’s Opposition Green Movement Rejects the MEK

  • The leaders of the Green Movement, Iran’s true popular opposition movement, have denounced the MEK and warned that the Iranian government seeks to discredit Iran’s opposition by associating it with the MEK:
  • “The Iranian Government is trying to connect those who truly love their country (the Greens) with the MEK to revive this hypocritical dead organization.” – Mehdi Karroubi, Green Movement leader. [6]
  • “The MEK can’t be part of the Green Movement. This bankrupt political group is now making some laughable claims, but the Green Movement and the MEK have a wall between them and all of us, including myself, Mr. Mousavi, Mr. Khatami, and Mr. Karroubi.” – Zahra Rahnavard, Women’s rights activist and wife of Green Movement leader Mir Hossein Mousavi[7]

Iraqi National Congress Redux?

  • The MEK claims it is “the main opposition in Iran,” yet similar to Ahmad Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress that helped bring the United States into war with Iraq, the MEK is an exiled organization that has no popular support within Iran. [8]
  • RAND reports that the MEK are “skilled manipulators of public opinion.” The MEK has a global support network with active lobbying and propaganda efforts in major Western capitals. [9]
  • Members of Congress have been deceived and misinformed into supporting this terrorist  organization:
  • In 2002, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen led efforts for the U.S. to support the group, prompting then-Chairman and the Ranking Member of the House International Affairs Committee, Henry Hyde and Tom Lantos, to send a Dear Colleague warning against supporting the MEK.  They cautioned that many Members had been “embarrassed when confronted with accurate information about the MEK.” [10]
  • In the current Congress, Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) and Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA) have each introduced resolutions calling for MEK to be removed from the Foreign Terrorist Organization list.

A Capacity and Will to Commit Terrorist Acts in the U.S. & Beyond

  • The Bush administration determined in 2007 that “MEK leadership and members across the world maintain the capacity and will to commit terrorist acts in Europe, the Middle East, the United States, Canada, and beyond.” [11]
  • The Canadian and Australian governments have also designated the MEK as a terrorist organization. The Canadian government just reaffirmed its designation in December. [12] [13]
  • An EU court removed the MEK from its list of terrorist organizations, but only due to procedural reasons.  According to a spokesperson for the Council of the European Union, the EU court “did not enter into the question of defining or not the PMOI [MEK] as a terrorist organization.” [14]

Saddam Hussein’s Terrorist Militia

  • The MEK received all of its military assistance and most of its financial support from Saddam Hussein, including funds illegally siphoned from the UN Oil-for-Food Program, until 2003. [15]
  • The MEK helped execute Saddam’s bloody crackdown on Iraqi Shia and Kurds. Maryam Rajavi, the MEK’s permanent leader, instructed her followers to “take the Kurds under your tanks.” [16]

A Cult That Abuses Its Own Members

  • Human Rights Watch reports that MEK commits extensive human rights abuses against its own members at Camp Ashraf, including “torture that in two cases led to death.” [17]
  • A RAND report commissioned by DOD found that the MEK is a cult that utilizes practices such as mandatory divorce, celibacy, authoritarian control, forced labor, sleep deprivation, physical abuse, confiscation of assets, emotional isolation, and the imprisonment of dissident members. [18]
  • RAND concluded that up to 70% of the MEK members at their Camp Ashraf headquarters were likely recruited through deception and are kept there against their will. [19]
  • The FBI reports that the MEK’s “NLA [National Liberation Army] fighters are separated from their children who are sent to Europe and brought up by the MEK’s Support Network. […] These children are then returned to the NLA to be used as fighters upon coming of age.  Interviews also revealed that some of these children were told that their parents would be harmed if the children did not cooperate with the MEK. ”[20]

A History of Anti-Americanism

  • One of the founding ideologies of the MEK is anti-Americanism—the MEK is responsible for murdering American businessmen, military personnel, and even a senior American diplomat. [21]
  • The MEK strongly supported the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979, vigorously opposed their eventual release, and chastised the government for not executing the hostages. [22]

The MEK was Not “Added” to the FTO List as a Goodwill Gesture to Iran

Delisting MEK: Disastrous Repercussions

The MEK is opposed by the Iranian people due to its history of terrorist attacks against civilians in Iran and its close alliance with Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war.

  1. The greatest beneficiaries of delisting MEK would be Ahmadinejad and Iranian hardliners who seek to link the U.S. and the Green Movement to MEK.
  2. U.S. support for MEK would be used as a propaganda tool by hardliners to delegitimize and destroy Iran’s true democracy movement.
  3. American credibility among the Iranian people would be ruined if the U.S. supported this group.

Full citations below the fold:

  • 7 July 2011
  • Posted By Jamal Abdi
  • 3 Comments
  • Congress, MEK, Neo-Con Agenda

MEK supporters brought to testify before Congress

Former U.S. officials have admitted to receiving cash to speak at pro-MEK conferences.  Now, officials who may be getting paid to publicly advocate in support of MEK (Mujahedin-e Khalq) are being invited to testify before Congress.

Today at 2pm, a House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee is holding a hearing on the MEK in which three out of the four witnesses  have appeared at conferences to advocate for the MEK to be removed from the U.S. terror list.

[update: watch the hearing live here]

Among the officials is former Bush Attorney General Michael Mukasey, who flew to Paris last December to appear alongside MEK leader Maryam Rajavi and call for the U.S. to remove MEK from the terrorist list and start “offering all possible overt and covert support to the opposition.”

Interestingly, the only official testifying today who has not participated in pro-MEK events, Ray Takeyh, has been falsely smeared by MEK as being “pro-ayatollah” and “a leading figure of the pro-Iranian regime circles.”

Unfortunately, none of this comes as a surprise.  In fact, the Chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), and top members like Ted Poe (R-TX), are themselves avowed supporters of the MEK.  They even recently led a delegation to Iraq where they pushed the MEK agenda and promptly got themselves kicked out of the country.  The embarrassing incident prompted the U.S. Embassy in Iraq to publicly distance itself from Rohrabacher and his pals and explain the group did not speak for the U.S.

If only now somebody would step up to explain why the laws aren’t being enforced to prevent former officials from getting paid to appear alongside terrorist leaders like Maryam Rajavi.

To learn more about the MEK and its campaign of political pressure, visit www.MEKterror.com.

  • 7 July 2011
  • Posted By NIAC
  • 0 Comments
  • MEK, Neo-Con Agenda

MEKterror.com

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcreI2qaj9I&feature=player_embedded]

Yesterday, NIAC launched www.MEKterror.com, a resource for information on the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and to mobilize grassroots action to put an end to the MEK’s campaign of political pressure and intimidation in Washington.

Despite being designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the State Department—which is supposed to prevent terrorist groups from receiving material support from or coordinating activities with Americans—the MEK and its affiliates are doing just that.  They have been given a free hand to organize an unprecedented political and media blitz in Washington to pressure Congress and the State Department to remove MEK from the terror list.  Why are the laws not being enforced?

The decision on MEK’s terrorist listing will be coming from the State Department soon, likely in August.  We  need to make sure that decision is based on the facts, not manipulated by (likely illegal) political pressure.  We also need to make sure elected officials and policy makers are not fooled by the MEK into thinking they are supported by the Iranian people, Iran’s peaceful democracy movement, or the Iranian-American community.  So, we launched our campaign to provide factual information about the MEK and to organize grassroots action to ensure the voices of the Iranian-American community are accurately represented.

To help take action, please send a letter to U.S. government officials calling on them to enforce the law and explaining why Iranians and Iranian-Americans do not support MEK, despite the groups absurd claims.  For more information about why NIAC is engaging in this effort, what would be the ramifications of taking MEK off the terrorist list, and further ways you can support the campaign, visit www.MEKterror.com.

  • 25 April 2011
  • Posted By Jamal Abdi
  • 2 Comments
  • MEK

Will Giuliani invite MEK “freedom fighters” to relocate in Manhattan?

The MEK issued a statement late last week that not only casts serious doubt on their claims to have renounced terrorism but demands that they be allowed to come to the U.S. 

The group cites a disarmament deal they negotiated with the U.S. as the basis for the demand:

The Ashraf residents, in their two-day negotiations with (former Commanding General of U.S. Forces in Iraq) General Odierno on 9 and 10 May 2003, announced that after their disarmament, upon conditions that the US is incapable of giving them protection in Iraq, they are ready to go to the US.

The referenced deal, negotiated after the toppling of the MEK’s chief patron Saddam Hussein, apparently requires the United States to relocate MEK members in Iraq to the U.S. or E.U.:

…it is up to the US, in return to [sic] their disarmament and in accordance with the agreement signed with each of the residents, to transfer every one of them without exception to the US or European Union member States.

The fact that the MEK is designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization would prevent them from legally coming to the U.S., but an assortment of prominent U.S. politicians, lobbyists, and consulting firms are working to reverse that terror designation.  However, the MEK statement also raises new questions about whether the group has truly renounced terrorism as they have claimed:

Hence, if in the future similar to the past, the goal of establishing various committees in Iraq’s Prime Ministry is for the sole purpose of the residents’ repression, killing and closing down Ashraf, there will be no choice left for Iran’s freedom fighters other than resistance at any price.

So now that the MEK is threatening “resistance at any price” and demanding relocation to the U.S., the question is: will U.S. officials supporting MEK, some of whom have acknowledged receiving “substantial amount” of cash,  invite these “freedom fighters” into their own backyards?

Perhaps Rudy Giuliani, who told an MEK conference in Paris last year that “the United States should not just be on your side…it should be enthusiastically on your side,” knows of a good place in Lower Manhattan to relocate the group.  Never mind that MEK leaders Massoud and Maryam Rajavi reportedly celebrated September 11th by broadcasting the attacks at Camp Ashraf.  Rudy apparently has no problem with the Rajavis’ declarations following September 11th that, “if (Al Qaeda) could do such a sophisticated military operation we must be able to do so in a much better manner,” and, “wait and see the fruits of our revolutionary Islam!”

Or maybe Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX), the lead sponsor of a resolution calling for MEK to be removed from the U.S. terror list, could invite the group to Texas.  I’m sure he would enjoy informing his constituents in Liberty County that 3,500 Marxist-Islamist “freedom fighters” will be moving in down the street.

Or who knows, maybe the MEK’s U.S. supporters will be given pause by these new revelations, not to mention previous findings of torture and cult-like practices at Camp Ashraf.  Maybe they will be convinced to focus not on legitimizing the MEK’s leaders but instead on the estimated seventy percent of Camp Ashraf residents that RAND estimates were brought there against their will and would leave MEK if given the chance.

But don’t hold your breath.  If officials are being paid “substantial” amounts of  money to advocate on behalf of MEK and have a change of heart, they might have to give the money back.

  • 22 April 2011
  • Posted By Jamal Abdi
  • 1 Comments
  • MEK

Camp Ashraf escapee accuses MEK of human rights abuses

New evidence has come to light of forced detainment and humanitarian abuses carried out by the Mojahadin-e-Khalq (MEK) at its fortified compound in Iraq, Camp Ashraf.

On Tuesday, Iraq’s Defense Ministry reported that several MEK members had escaped Camp Ashraf and turned themselves over to Iraqi security forces.  One of the escapees, Abdollatif Shadvari, spoke with Radio Free Europe about why he fled:

I’ve been with this organization for 25 years. I joined the [MEK]from Pakistan and through a friend who has been martyred.

I haven’t had any contact with my family during the [past] 25 years because there was no possibility of contacting them. My family thought I was dead. Using the telephone, mobile phone, Internet, and even listening to radio is forbidden in the organization.

He told Radio Free Europe that MEK members are not allowed to leave the organization:

[MEK leader Massoud] Rajavi has said many times, whoever wants to escape from Ashraf will be punished by death and execution.   Not only me, but many of my friends who are now in Ashraf don’t have the possibility to leave the camp. Escape is the only way.

Asked why MEK prevents members from leaving Camp Ashraf, Shadvari explained, “It’s obvious.  If people [leave Ashraf], the organization will fall apart, there won’t be any Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization anymore.”

The MEK  is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. Government, but it is undertaking a major lobbying campaign in Washington to have that designation removed.  The organization has enlisted a number of prominent former U.S. officials and politicians who have said the MEK are “freedom fighters” instead of terrorists.

While terrorist-designated organizations are technically prevented from raising money and operating in the U.S., some of their most prominent supporters have acknowledged receiving a “substantial amount” of money to appear at MEK conferences in Washington, Paris and Berlin.  The source of this funding remains unclear.

Those former officials have expressed support for the MEK because it is the “enemy of our enemy,” and because the group has claimed to be the “main opposition in Iran.”  Often appearing alongside MEK’s unelected president Maryam Rajavi, the officials have called for the terrorist designation of the group to be removed in order to prevent humanitarian abuses that MEK says are carried out against them at Camp Ashraf.

But continued evidence, including Shadvari’s firsthand account, indicates that MEK commits abuses against its own members.  Radio Free Europe’s Golnaz Esfandiari writes, “Former [MEK] members have described the group as a cult that promotes celibacy and martyrdom, takes away members’ children, and uses psychological methods to pressure members and force them to remain obedient and follow orders.”

RAND Corporation has reported on forced detentions and abuses carried out by the group, and Human Rights Watch has even documented cases in which MEK has tortured its own members to death.

The MEK’s denials of such findings may undermine the credibility of its other claims, namely that it has renounced terrorism.

As Shadvari and others share their firsthand accounts of MEK abuses at Camp Ashraf, the organization’s political supporters in Washington may be surprised by what they have to say.

  • 18 March 2011
  • Posted By Jamal Abdi
  • 0 Comments
  • Congress, Human Rights in Iran, MEK, Neo-Con Agenda, US-Iran War

Experts Warn Against MEK Terrorist Group’s Lobbying Efforts

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FnDkGJNcqyo]

One exchange of note at NIAC’s Answering the Iranian People’s Call for Human Rights conference on Capitol Hill centered on the terror group Mujahedin-e Khalq, or MEK.

The MEK is currently ramping up its lobbying efforts in Congress to be taken off the Foreign Terrorist Organization list, which would enable it to raise money in the US and even receive US government assistance.  Some have called the MEK an Ahmad Chalabi/Iraqi National Congress-esque group that will similarly be utilized by pro-war interests to push for an Iran war.  [Time: Why Are Some U.S. Politicians Trying to Remove an Iranian ‘Cult’ From the Terror List?]

“The Mujahedin-e Khalq are not a serious organization,” said Nader Hashemi of the University of Denver, when asked by a staffer from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to assess the consequences of removing the group from the terror list.

The staffer highlighted “increasingly louder calls in Washington that the MEKs designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization be lifted,” on the basis that some policymakers consider the group a potential US ally because it is the “enemy of our enemy.”  But, the staffer said, “reports suggest that their human rights record is not so spotless and they are immensely disliked in Iran.”

Questioning whether to take the group off the terror list, Hashemi responded, “represents the disconnect that exists in the US Congress with the domestic reality in Iran.”

“The Mujahedin-e Khalq are viewed universally in Iran as an appendage of Saddam Hussein’s army.  They are a personality cult.  They have zero support except maybe a handful of followers who live abroad.”

Human Rights Watch’s Sarah Leah Whitson, who was also on the panel, warned strongly against the US working the group.  “It would open the US to ridicule to have any association with MEK, especially because of its utter irrelevancy and bizarreness,” she said.  “The fact that a number of former government officials were recently trotting around giving speeches on their behalf and earning money from the MEK is farcical.”

Whitson highlighted a Human Rights Watch’s report on the MEK:

“We did an investigation on MEK’s practices in Camp Ashraf…where the MEK was stationed with a fairly sizable milita for many years, protected by Saddam Hussein’s government.  And what we documented was extensive practices of torture, mock executions, a few cases of killings against Mujahedin-e Khalq members who wanted to leave the organization, which I think was correctly characterized as cult-like in its practices of requiring submission by their members…I think it has a real dubious record as possible saviors of the Iranian people.”

Alireza Nader of the RAND Corporation recommended that policymakers read a 2009 RAND report on MEK.  The report, commissioned by the Defense Department, also finds that MEK is a cult in which rank and file members are abused by leadership Camp Ashraf.

According to Nader:

“[The MEK’s] objectives are not very clear, what it wants to do with Iran if it could take power.  It’s not a democratic movement by any means, even former members have described it as undemocratic.  So I don’t think that it would help US interests to remove the MEK from the [terrorist] list.  It could actually complicate our policies towards Iran.”

Several resolutions have been introduced in the House, including two this year, calling for the MEK to be removed from the terror list.  Some lawmakers have even referred to MEK as “Iran’s main opposition movement” in spite of Green Movement denunciations of the organization.

Ominous signs for new Congress’ Iran agenda: sanctions, blockade, war

This past Wednesday, the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee convened for a hearing on “Implementing Tougher Sanctions on Iran” and offered a frightening preview of what will be on the House’s agenda next year.

At the hearing, Representative Don Manzullo (R-IL) laid out what may be the game plan by the new Republican Congress to drag the US into yet a third war in the Middle East:

“If these sanctions don’t work, then the next step would be a blockade,” Manzullo said looking over his shoulder to incoming chairwoman Ros Lehtinen.  “And the next step would be some type of—you hate to use the word—but military action.”

Even though it is evident that sanctions have weakened Iran’s economy, it should come as no surprise that Ileana Ros-Lehtinen now wants to pressure the Administration to impose even tougher sanctions on Iran.

“Since the 1990’s, the US and international efforts to stop growing Iranian threat have been half-hearted at best. The problem is not that a tough approach has failed, but that it has yet to be fully tried.”

When it came to the opposition Green Movement in Iran – a movement based on the civil and human rights on Iranians -Representative Ted Poe (R-TX) was incensed that his question about support  for that movement was answered instead with a response about supporting human rights. “My question is what are we doing to promote the opposition, not human rights.”

It appears that the representatives have blindfolded themselves to what is actually going on in Iran and are taking sides on issues that they don’t seem to fully comprehend.

Read NIAC’s report from the hearing

  • 15 June 2010
  • Posted By Shawn Vl
  • 9 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009, MEK

Whitewashing Neda’s Death

[vodpod id=Video.3838962&w=425&h=350&fv=]

This state-produced propaganda video was broadcast on the anniversary of the June 12th election, alleging that Neda Agha Soltan was not murdered by a Basij militiamember but rather by members of the Iranian government’s favorite scapegoat: the MEK.

In an interview with the suspect who is widely believed to have been behind Neda’s shooting, the video attempts to portray the Basiji as an innocent victim wrongly convicted in the court of public opinion. But when the filmmakers approached Neda’s sister to get her support for their version of events, she would have nothing of it.

What amazes me about this propaganda piece is not the fact that the regime is trying to cover up Neda’s death, but how they are trying to use Neda’s death as cover for the hundreds of other people that were also killed or went missing during the post-election uproar. Somehow, the government is under the impression that if they rid themselves of Neda’s death, then all their other crimes against the public will also be wiped clean. But it won’t work.

Neda is indeed a symbol of the Green Movement, but her death also bears witness to the other victims of the government’s brutality. If the hardliners want to truly redeem themselves, they need to come clean about the hundreds of other killings they’re responsible for, and the thousands of other crimes they’ve committed — not just this one.

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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.

Sincerely,

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