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

“Basiji! How much money do you get to wield that baton?”

This video from today’s protests in Iran (the exact location is unconfirmed), posted on Facebook, shows hundreds of protesters chanting, ” Basiji! How much money do you get to wield that baton?”

A young participant who witnessed and participated in the protests today at Tehran University and Amir Kabir University noted the increase use of force by the Basij. “Normally, the riot police hit people to break up groups from forming,” he said, but today, the Basij were indiscriminate in their use of force, apparently hitting any and everyone in sight.

  • 8 August 2009
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • Uncategorized

Iran’s Mass Trial Resumes

The LA Times has the latest on Iran’s mass trial:

Twitter, Facebook and Google’s newly introduced Persian-to-English translation software were part of a vast foreign conspiracy against Iran, said a prosecutor today at the second session of an extraordinary trial against alleged ringleaders of weeks of unrest unfolding in Iran.

Government critics and international observers have slammed the proceedings in Tehran as grotesque “show trials” meant to silence the opposition to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose disputed reelection triggered popular protests partially quelled in a violent official crackdown.

As the trial unfolded, a reformist website reported that security forces disrupted a small protest by relatives of the accused and demonstrators chanting, “God is great,” outside the court building.

Among those in the defendants’ gallery was Clotilde Reiss, 24, a French student and researcher who was teaching language classes at a university in the city of Esfahan. She appeared pale but calm as she sat in the front row before the judge, according to photographs distributed by the Fars news agency, among the few government-affiliated news organizations allowed to cover the proceedings.

Reiss, speaking to the court, admitted to sending a one-page account of unrest in Esfahan to the head of the French research center in Tehran and to marching with demonstrators, for which she apologized, according to Fars.

Other defendants included Hossein Rassam, lead analyst at the British Embassy’s political section, and Nazak Afshar, a low-ranking official at the cultural mission at the French Embassy. Both were detained and later released on bail during the unrest.

In a statement read to the courtroom, Rassam described the humdrum details of his embassy job, including efforts to gather information about the political sensibilities of ordinary Iranians and politicians during the unrest, and rejected the accusation that what he was doing was espionage, according to an account by Fars.

He said a British Embassy employee took part in the rallies wearing the green colors that are the signature of the opposition movement.

British officials were stunned by Rassam’s appearance at the mass trial and have demanded clarification for what they described as an “outrage.”

“This is completely unacceptable and directly contradicts assurances we had been given repeatedly by senior Iranian officials,” an unnamed British Foreign Office spokesman said in a statement released to the news media. “We deplore these trials and the so-called confessions of prisoners who have been denied their basic human rights.”

Read the rest of the article at the LA Times.

Sign the Petition


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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