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Posts Tagged ‘ American hikers in Iran ’

  • 25 August 2011
  • Posted By David Shams
  • 0 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran

Iran Factions Use Hikers for Own Political Games

If previous Iranian government behavior is any indication, the 8 year sentence handed down this past weekend against the two American hikers, Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, is by no means the final word.  The Iranian government has always sought more tactical flexibility and uses situations such as this to leverage its opponents.  But in addition to the continued U.S.-Iran standoff, the hikers have also fallen prey to political infighting in Tehran that creates the biggest obstacle to clarity.  Their sentence is the latest installment in a series of political football matches between the various factions inside of Iran.

Recall that it was last September when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, attempting to score points for himself just weeks before coming to New York to address the UN General Assembly, announced an imminent release for the third hiker, Sara Shourd.  But Ahmadinejad’s political opponents in the Judiciary attempted to block the initiative and prevent any corresponding political capital Ahmadinejad hoped to gain.  They cancelled Shourd’s release and ultimately required her to post bail of $500,000 before she was finally released on September 14th.

In a case of déjà vu with Fattal and Bauer, Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi (appointed by Ahmadinejad) suggested the trial would lead to their freedom.  But this past weekend, we saw a completely different result.

Now, Fattal and Bauer will continue to languish in Evin Prison instead of being reunited with their families.  You can take action to send a letter calling for their release through Amnesty International’s website.

In a radio interview with Anti-War.com, NIAC’s  Reza Marashi explained, “It’s a puzzle to me what Iran’s trying to achieve.”  But he also said there remains a glimmer of hope that the Supreme Leader would issue  an edict releasing the hikers.  It could be a way to save face, by showing leniency in the holy month of Ramadan.  This way they “won’t have to come up with a nonsensical justification for keeping them in prison,” Marashi said.

As Wednesday’s New York Times editorial put it, “There is no legitimate excuse not to (let them go). Mr. Bauer and Mr. Fattal should be freed immediately.”

But in addition the murky internal political dynamic, this situation is endemic to the conflict between the US and Iran.  As Marashi points out, “If relations had been halfway normal this would have been resolved far earlier.”  Without diplomatic relations, there are few levers for the U.S. to pull.

Unfortunately, due to a deeply seeded culture of mistrust on both sides, the US and Iran have framed their relationship as a zero-sum game. Thus, if one side gains then by nature the other side loses.  It’s easy to envision how a stalemate can develop as neither side is willing to bargain or negotiate.  So, situations like we see with the hikers become more “complex, even though (the solution) is straight forward.”

  • 5 May 2010
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • 5 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran

Hypocrisy Abounds

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says that the future of three American hikers detained in Iran since July 31 is up to the courts to decide.

While equating the case of the hikers with those of seven Iranian citizens currently incarcerated in US jails, Ahmadinejad said yesterday that the three will be dealt with according to the judicial system set up under Iran’s laws and constitution.

But the three hikers have been held without charge for over 9 months, in direct violation of Article 32 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which guarantees that:

No person may be arrested except according to and in the manner laid down in the law. If someone is detained, the subject matter of the charge, with reasons (for bringing it), must immediately be communicated and explained in writing to the accused. Within at most 24 hours the file on the case and preliminary documentation must be referred to the competent legal authority. Legal procedures must be initiated as early as possible. Anyone infringing this principle will be punished in accordance with the law.

And Article 35, which says:

In all courts, both parties to the claim are entitled to select a lawyer for themselves. If they do not have the capacity to do this, the means of a lawyer being appointed to act for them must be made available to them.

ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked Ahmadinejad in an interview yesterday if the hikers will be allowed access to the outside world and legal representation.  Ahmadinejad, whose answers grew increasingly defensive, responded in typical fashion by turning the issue back toward the United States.  “If anyone illegally entered U.S. borders, do you think the U.S. Government will let them go freely?” he said.

These three individuals entered our borders illegally. They have confessed to that. They crossed our border. Now, they’re being handled by our judicial system and the judicial system will review their crimes according to the law. We have laws. There’s a due process of law that is being observed.

But the reality simply does not fit with the picture Ahmadinejad is painting.  Nine months of incarceration without formal charge.  The three have not been allowed access to their lawyer.  International observers have had limited access, and questions remain about the health of the three Americans in detention.

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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