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  • 4 August 2010
  • Posted By Sherry Safavi
  • 5 Comments
  • Congress, Human Rights in Iran

The Senate Calls on Iran to Release Three Detained Americans

Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal

Cross-posted from the NIAC homepage

The Senate unanimously passed a resolution yesterday calling for the “immediate” and “unconditional” release of three American hikers being detained in Iran.  The resolution, backed by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-PA), Al Franken (D-MN), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Arlen Spector (D-PA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), emphasized that Sarah Shourd, Joshua Fattal, and Shane Bauer have been detained in Iran for over a year and urged their release on humanitarian grounds.

While the UC Berkeley graduates were originally reported to have been arrested after unintentionally crossing into Iran, a recent report by The Nation cites two eyewitnesses who said the three were arrested on the Iraqi side of the border.  The report by the Nation further reported that the IRGC official responsible for ordering the detention of the trio has since been arrested by the Iranian government and charged with smuggling, kidnapping, and murder.

The resolution emphasized that “the amount of time Sarah, Josh and Shane have spent in prison is unjustified in relation to their alleged offense of illegal entry into Iran.”

Though Iran’s criminal procedure code maintains that persons must be charged or released within four months of being detained, the hikers have yet to be formally charged of a crime.  Sarah, Josh, and Shane, who are being held in the notorious Evin prison in Tehran, have been allowed to see their families only once, in May, and have had otherwise limited contact with the outside world.  According to their families, Sarah and Shane may be suffering from potentially serious health problems.

The resolution text is below the fold:

  • 20 May 2010
  • Posted By Sanaz Yarvali
  • 2 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran

Hikers and Mothers in Emotional Reunion

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The three American hikers who were detained by Iranian officials back in July were finally reunited with their mothers in Iran today.

Relatives of the hikers, Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer, and Josh Fattal, say that the trio were hiking along northern Iraq’s Kurdistan region and accidently crossed the border into Iran. A simple mistake, no? Tehran does not think so. Tehran is paranoid at the thought of anyone trying to topple the Islamic Republic and will detain anyone who seems suspicious. On one hand, in the case of the hikers, it is understandable that Iran would worry about someone crossing into the border, especially from Iraq since the United States has such an overwhelming presence there. Look at the United States. We enforce a very strict border control with our neighbor Mexico.

However, to detain them for so long and only allow them to speak to their families once is not acceptable. Yes, they have allowed the mothers to visit for a week, but it is not enough. These individuals have not been given a trial even though the Iranian Foreign Minister stated in December that they would be given one, nor have the three been charged — which is a violation of Iranian law.

So is there any hope for these three Americans to be released soon? In the past, Iran and the United States have made backdoor agreements where detainees from both sides have been released in an exchange. For this particular case, some analysts do believe that Iran will release the hikers in a prisoner swap, similar to what was rumored to have been done with the Frenchwoman Clotilde Reiss. The Iranian Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi told reporters that Iran has been treating the hikers according to their “religious principles”  and “on humanitarian grounds”, and that the United States should reciprocate with Iranian detainees in their custody.

It is true that human rights violations occur everywhere and that Iran is not the only judicial system which has its faults.  It is also true that Iran and the United States have poor diplomatic relations. If the hikers were Malaysian, for example, things may have been slightly different.  The hostility between Iran and the West is not helping the situation and politics is politics no matter what. However, when an individual has not even been told what they are charged with, it is no longer politics but a violation of rights.

Here’s hoping for a safe and speedy return.

  • 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.

  • 20 August 2009
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • 2 Comments
  • Events in Iran

Families of American hikers plead for safe release

ABC’s Diane Sawyer spoke with the family members of Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal, the three missing hikers who are reported to have been detained in Iran.

Despite the efforts of the State Department, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, there is still no progress on securing the Americans’ release.

Click below to see the moving interview (from Good Morning America)

Family of Hikers missing in Iran

  • 11 August 2009
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • 3 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran

Families of missing hikers release statement

The families of Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal have released the following statement regarding their children’s detention in Iran (h/t Lara):

“It is now twelve days since our children were detained in Iran, when they strayed across the border while on a brief hiking vacation in Iraqi Kurdistan. As loving parents, nothing causes us more heartache than not knowing how our children are, and not being able to talk to them and learn when we will hold them in our arms again. Shane, Sarah and Josh are young travelers who share a great love of the world and a deep respect for different cultures, societies and religions. We believe that when the Iranian authorities speak to our children, they will realize that Shane, Sarah and Josh had no intention of entering Iran and will allow them to leave the country and reunite with their families. We continue to hope that this misunderstanding will be resolved as quickly as possible.”

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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