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Amnesty’s New Report Calls for Human Rights Abuses in Iran to be “fully investigated”

The December 2009 Amnesty Report, Iran: Election Contested, Repression Compounded, moves to bring the abysmal human rights situation in Iran back to the  fore of the international community.

Human rights violations in Iran are now as bad as at any time in the past 20 years, Amnesty International has said in a new report on the aftermath of last June’s presidential election.

“The Iranian leadership must ensure that the many allegations of torture, including rape, unlawful killings and other abuses are fully and independently investigated,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme. […]

Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui said: “The authorities must show that they have turned the page on the abuses committed this summer. They must now ensure that the policing of protests conforms fully to international standards on law enforcement, and keep the Basij and other strong arm forces off the street.”

“Anyone who is arrested or detained must be protected from torture or other ill-treatment, prisoners of conscience must be released and those convicted after unfair trials – including the ‘show trials’ which made a mockery of justice – must have their cases reviewed, or be released.  All death sentences should be commuted, and others not yet tried must receive fair trials.”


The level of investigations that the government has held so far generally appear to have been intended more to conceal than to expose the truth.

Iranian authorities have established two bodies to investigate the post-election crisis, including the treatment of detainees – a parliamentary committee and a three-person judicial committee.

Full details of the mandate and powers of both bodies have not been disclosed, and the parliamentary committee’s findings have not been made public.

Manfred Nowak, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions have requested entry into Iran and are waiting to hear back from authorities.

“The onus is on the authorities to address the widespread human rights violations that occurred during the unrest in an open, transparent and accountable manner,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

Official figures say 36 people were killed in post-election violence. The opposition puts the figure at over 70.

At least 4,000 people were arrested across Iran after the elections. At the time of writing of the report, up to 200 remain in jail, some arrested after the initial unrest died down.

The report comes as massive new protests come up against more violent responses from the IRGC and government authorites in Iran days after the National Student Day resurgence among the opposition, nearly six months after the disputed June elections.

  • 4 September 2009
  • Posted By Artin
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Conservative MP: Khamenei Urged MPs to Support Cabinet

In the latest sign suggesting that Ahmadinejad’s political power depends on Khamenei’s backing, AFP is reporting that a senior conservative MP has said the Cabinet’s approval depended on Khamenei’s support. From AFP:

TEHRAN — Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged MPs to approve President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s cabinet, a senior lawmaker said on Friday, the latest sign of his full backing for the hardliner.

The ISNA news agency quoted Deputy Spearker Mohammad Reza Bahonar as saying that if Khamenei had not backed the proposed line-up, eight or nine nominees would have been rejected in Thursday’s confidence vote rather than only three.

“The message of the leader played a big role,” Bahonar said.

The conservative-dominated parliament approved 18 of 21 nominees for the cabinet, rejecting two of three women proposed and the would-be energy minister.

“If we had not received the leader’s recommendations, probably eight or nine ministers would have failed to win the vote of confidence, and that would not have been a good start for the government,” said Bahonar, a well-known critic of the president.

“If we had not received the message of the leader, the ministers of oil, industry, commerce, cooperatives, transport and foreign affairs would have been rejected,” Bahonar added.

He said Khamenei’s “vision” prevented this from happening and “changed the view” of parliament.

Mohammad Reza Bahonar is Secretary-General of the Islamic Society of Engineers, a lynchpin of Iran’s conservative establishment.

Bahonar generally supported Ahmadinejad from 2005 until earlier this summer, when Ahmadinejad tried to appoint a loyal politician who favored relations with Israel to be his Vice President. The Supreme Leader overruled the appointment and now Rahim Mashaie is Ahmadinejad’s Chief of Staff.

Ahmadinejad is a member of the Engineers, but the party is generally closer to pragmatic conservatives like Ali Larijani.

  • 8 June 2009
  • Posted By Parisa Ghobbeh
  • Iran Election 2009, Sanctions

UANI undermining Obama with Iran divestment


While the Iranian presidential election is mere days away, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) and some in Congress have made a renewed push for H.R. 1327, the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act.  This ad, paid for by UANI, will air on cable news networks this week.

As Obama has made it apparent that he desires to open dialogue and have peaceful diplomacy with Iran, UANI and others have sought to push even more economic sanctions on the country. Beginning Tuesday morning, UANI will place a television advertisement on major cable stations entitled “Unclenched fist” depicting Iran as the most active state sponsor of terrorism in the world, urging people to both support sanctions against the country and to urge leaders to prohibit Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

The measure they and other Iran hawks are promoting this week is H.R. 1327, which authorizes state and local governments to divest from Iran.  Many people fear that if passed, especially prior to the Iranian elections, it will tip the vote in favor of Ahmadinejad, who currently seems to be losing ground in the elections. People are taking to the streets in Tehran, fervently supporting Mir Hossein Moussavi. And after televised national debates between the candidates, Moussavi appears to have the upper hand. Therefore, provocative legislation against Iran such as this before Iranians go to the polls—could actually hurt Moussavi’s increasing momentum.

So, why is it that UANI is pushing for an Iranian divestment bill to pass the same week as the Iranian election? It seems as though the right thing for Americans to do now is allow for the elections to occur peacefully and in their own right, and decide on a course of action after diplomacy has been given sufficient time to succeed. Any move for sanctions or divestment now could be seen as American meddling in the election, which every expert agrees would be disastrous.  In my opinion, UANI should avoid undermining Obama, and give his peaceful diplomatic course a chance.

update: It appears as though rational heads have prevailed, as some on the Financial Services Committee advised leaders to take the bill off the calendar for this week.  Now the American people will have to decide for themselves about UANI’s publicized ads. Will they be swayed to support a new sanctions bill? Or will they place trust in Obama’s attempts at diplomacy?

  • 17 May 2009
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • Diplomacy, Iran Election 2009, Israel, Sanctions

Obama talks Iran before Netanyahu’s visit

There’s a small tempest brewing in Washington. A few people are getting impatient and frustrated, wondering why Iran hasn’t responded more clearly to Obama’s overtures. Others, like Senators Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), never put much stock in Obama’s engagement anyway, and are again pushing for stronger sanctions against Iran.

Obama’s inner circle, meanwhile, is patiently waiting for Iran to come to the table. That is the change – the United States is coming to the table. They expect Iran to do so as well, and that’s when the real diplomacy will take place. Everything up to this point has been signaling intentions and changing atmospherics.

Obama and his inner circle on Iran policy understand that Tehran is caught up in the Presidential election and don’t expect earth-shattering declarations or moves right now. It is telling enough that all the most prominent candidates for President have come out in favor of talks with the United States. That in itself is a huge change.

Atmospherics do matter.

So as others fret and talk about deadlines for diplomacy, it is significant to see that President Obama isn’t changing his tune. In talking to Newsweek, he reiterates what he said during his Norooz speech: the United States is willing to accept an Islamic Republic of Iran and end its policy of containment if Iran aligns itself “with international norms and international rules.”

Transcript below the fold:

  • 9 February 2009
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • Diplomacy, Events in Iran

Trita Parsi on Khatami’s Announcement

NIAC President Trita Parsi has written an analysis of Khatami’s decision to run for Iranian President on the Huffington Post.

Despite having been elected twice to the Presidency twice, Khatami faces several challenges:

“Khatami’s challenge now is to make sure that he can convince the Iranian populace three things. First, that he will show greater strength and willingness to challenge the political boundaries of the Islamic Republic. During his eight years as President, Khatami disappointed large segments of the population by being too timid and too unwilling to push the envelope to deliver on his promise of greater freedoms and reforms.”

The announcement also has implications for US policymakers:

“His decision to run will intensify temptations in Washington to hold back any effort to initiate diplomacy with Iran until after the election. These temptations should be resisted. The last thing Khatami needs is to be considered America’s candidate in the race. In fact, opponents to Ahmadinejad argue that out they will have an easier time pursuing diplomacy with the US if negotiations are initiated already under Ahmadinejad and the conservatives. It will simply be more difficult for the conservatives to oppose and undermine US-Iran talks if those talks began when a conservative held the presidency.”

The full article contains much more and is well worth a read.

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.



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