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Posts Tagged ‘ Ashura ’

‘Mercy’ Period is Over

The NY times reports that Iran’s national police chief, Ismail Ahmadi Moghaddam, issued a warning that the “mercy” phase was over: Iranian authorities would soon begin cracking down even more severely on opposition activities.

The police chief warned that this crackdown would not be limited to protesters but anyone who used technology, such as cellphones, twitter alerts, and e-mails to publicize the street protests.

This proclamation does not come lightly; since the June 12 disputed presidential elections opposition groups have relied heavily upon such technology to help organize their movement. The government has repeatedly tried to block websites and shut down opposition newspapers, and the battle over access to information is a daily struggle.

“After all the evidence we saw on Ashura, our tolerance has come to an end, and both the police force and the judiciary will be confronting them with full force,” Mr. Ahmadi Moghaddam said, according to Iran’s semiofficial news service ILNA.

The December 27th Ashura protests was one of the most violent outbreaks since the initial summer protests, as hundreds of dissidents were arrested and at least 8 were killed. More opposition protests are expected next month during the celebration of the founding of the Islamic Republic.

  • 29 December 2009
  • Posted By NIAC
  • Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

More Footage from Ashura: Peaceful Protesters Attacked

This moving video, also posted on Mir Hossein Moussavi and Zahra Rahnavard’s Facebook page shows hundreds of protesters in the streets on Tehran on Ashura. Amidst peace signs, chants of “Ya, Hossein! Mir Hossein!” “Death the the dictator!” and “Don’t be afraid! Don’t be afraid! We are all together!” security forces attack with batons and one can hear shots of what seem to be tear gas bullets, although security forces did shoot and kill several people captured on other videos during Sunday’s protesters.


  • 28 December 2009
  • Posted By NIAC
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran

The Wavering Guards: Whose side are they on?

The following post is based on the experience of a trusted source in Iran.

Normally it’s the mothers and fathers looking for their arrested sons and daughters, but this time it was the son, looking not only for his mother and father, but his uncle, aunt and seventy-nine year-old grandmother. He waited with other parents in a Tehran holding facility, which doubled as a resting place for various government forces.  “Excuse me, could I just get my keys from my parents please?” he lied in the hopes of speaking with his family.

To which the guard responded, “No, just stay with your uncle tonight.”

“But my uncle’s with them.”

“Then stay with your aunt,” said the guard.

“She’s in there too,” he replied.

“Go to your grandmothers, then!” said the guard. Unlike the US, in Iran, it’s safe to assume that one’s extended family live in such close proximity.

“But, you’ve arrested my grandmother too!” he pleaded with frustration.

“Well, then you might as well join them,” the guard joked and perhaps taking pity on him, showed him to his parents.

His family along with many others were arrested near Tehran University without even having had participated in the Ashura protests.  Apparently, one Basij told the crowd they couldn’t enter a street near Tehran University. As they were turning around to leave, another guard told them to sit down causing everyone to ask, “Why?”

To which the guard responded, “Everyone, get in the van!”

The men and women were separated in the area, similar to how they are for prayer in mosques. There were about seventy women in a room, all of whom who had to turn and face a wall the moment a Basij or police officer entered the room to rest—a forced gesture of modesty.

The men, which totaled 400, were kept in another room. Guards in both rooms kept asking, “Is anyone sick? Is anyone sick?” out of fear of having someone die on their watch.

Each room was filled with camaraderie as the detained shared stories of how they were arrested. It even turned into a reunion of sorts as one fifty year-old protester met a long lost friend who had participated in the 1979 Revolution with him.

The guards’ amateurish behavior even provided the detained with something to laugh at. His mother witnessed one of the robot-dressed militia men, try numerous times to fit in through a door which was clearly too small for him with all the gear he was wearing. After several failed attempts, the guard finally realized he had to turn to his helmeted-head to the side to fit through the door.

Women in Iran are known as shirzan, the lioness, for their bravery and  cunning. Yesterday, they proved worthy of the title as they destroyed their cell phones and threw them down the toilette to avoid confiscation—leaving the guards in possession of only ten phones.

Fortunately, this one lucky family was freed with nothing more than a mark on their record. Well, not all of them. The youth’s uncle went to the bathroom during documentation of the detained, leaving without a trace.

Though the guards proved inept in their administrative capabilities, their inability to confiscate cell phones from seventy women, to walk through doors and to document who was in their custody; their intimidation tactics proved effective. One guard told a 16-year old, “Hey there good looking, I screwed two pretty assholes like you just yesterday.” The family left unscathed physically, but emotionally fired up, vowing to take to the streets more fervently than before.

Perhaps the guard’s failure to conduct the most basic procedures was due to their incompetence and lack of training. But, this seems doubtful considering the regime dealt more decisively with larger protests after the disputed Presidential elections. Or was their failure to let such straightforward tasks fall through the cracks because they just don’t care anymore? Perhaps they’ve had a change of heart after seeing women protesters rush to their rescue or their morale is low after witnessing peaceful protesters beaten by their peers? These guards can’t revolt to show their disheartenment, but they can sure do a shoddy job.

  • 27 December 2009
  • Posted By NIAC
  • Events in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Hundreds arrested & the face of Ashura

Government forces have shown no mercy today as they have arrested any and everyone in sight–from typical young protesters to 80 year-old grandmothers at the University of Tehran. What they will do with all of those arrested is unknown as space is probably limited. A police officer who spoke to a young protester today, said that protesters have burned at least 56 police vehicles in his county alone. The protester also said that he heard about 400 people alone have been arrested.

This video shows  protesters surrounding and burning a police vehicle.  [youtube=]

The following video from today posted on Facebook shows protesters holding up a Basij helmet, almost as a symbol of victory.

Also, numerous graphic photos have almost emerged, showing bloodied men and women. This graphic picture (update: apparently unavailable now) shows a young girl who, despite her face bloodied face seems very calm. Many are already calling her the face of Ashura.

  • 27 December 2009
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Updated: Security Forces Kill Iran Protestors

Today’s Ashura protests have turned deadly. The AP is reporting:

Security forces tried but failed to disperse protesters on a central Tehran street with tear gas, charges by baton-wielding officers and warning shots fired into the air. They then opened fire directly at protesters, killing at least three people, said witnesses and the pro-reform Web site Rah-e-Sabz. A fourth protester was shot dead on a nearby street, they said.

Witnesses said one of the victims was an elderly man who had a gunshot wound to the forehead. He was seen being carried away by opposition supporters with blood covering his face.

More than two dozen opposition supporters were injured, some of them seriously, with limbs broken from beatings, according to witnesses. There were also violent confrontations in at least three other major cities: Isfahan and Najafabad in central Iran and Shiraz in the south.

The AP has updated the story to say one of the victims is the nephew of Mir Hossein Mousavi.

The close aide to Mousavi says the nephew, Ali Mousavi, died of wounds in a hospital on Sunday.

The aide spoke on condition of anonymity because of fears of reprisals from the government.

A reformist Web site,, also says Mousavi’s nephew was killed.

The New York Times is reporting further:

In the evening, about 50 vigilantes armed with chains, batons and pepper spray disrupted a speech by Mr. Khatami at Jamaran Mosque in Tehran, the home mosque of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the spiritual leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolution.

Thousands of opposition supporters converged on the neighborhood, witnesses said, and government forces fired tear gas and threatened to shoot if the protesters did not leave.

“As the number of protesters increased, the government forces quickly brought in more forces and waged a very savage attack on people,” said a witness, interviewed by telephone. “I saw a 23-year-old woman stabbed.”

Tehran Bureau adds the Basij interrupted Khatami’s speech after he began drawing parallels between the opposition movement and the martyrdom of Imam Hossein. The NYT’s The Lede has the video.

Update: There are reports from opposition websites that another four protestors were killed in Tabriz.

  • 21 December 2009
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • Iran Election 2009

The Significance of Today’s Events


Copyright AP

The hardline newspaper Kayhan reported that there were "a maximum of 5000" in the crowd mourning Montazeri's death. (h/t


Today clearly breathed new life into Iran’s opposition movement. Opposition leaders Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi both took the risk and attended alongside countless other mourners. (Mousavi’s convoy was reportedly attacked en-route back to Tehran by plain-clothed security officials who cut off the convoy and bashed in a window of one of the cars and injured one of Mousavi’s bodyguards.) 

Khamenei issued a rather insulting statement of condolence, which the NY Times reports sparked boos, chants of “we do not want rationed condolences” and “death to the dictator” from the crowd of mourners in Qum. Khamenei’s statement follows:

“We have become informed that the sublime jurisprudent Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri has departed this life. He was a competent religious authority and a prominent expert and many students attended his classes. A long portion of his life had been dedicated to the movement of the revered and great Imam (Khomeini), and he strived and suffered hardships on this path. In the last years of the Imam’s life, he (Montazeri) was faced with a difficult test. I ask Almighty God to forgive him through His mercy and to accept the hardships suffered during his life as atonement. I extend my condolences to his bereaved wife and children and ask God to bestow forgiveness and mercy upon him.”

While the Iranian government managed to successfully block BBC Persian service into Iran, another critical audience couldn’t possibly miss what happened today. One of the readers at the New York Times’ The Lede put it best: 

Qom is in many ways the heart of the last Revolution (how it ended up anyway) and its aftermath. Until now, the regime has tried very very hard to isolate Qom from the protest movement. The security presence there has always been reported as very high to prevent any protests. […] With today’s protests in Qom, and the clergy’s close-up view of it (perhaps for the first time for some of them) it will be interesting to see what the Qom clergy does in the days and weeks to come.

The next day to watch is Sunday, when two major days of mourning coincide: the day of mourning for Ayatollah Montazeri (the seventh day after his death) and the religious holiday of Ashura, which marks the martyrdom of the Imam Hossein.

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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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