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2 More Executed in Iran

The NY Times reports that Mohammad-Ali Zamani and Arash Rahamipour were hanged before dawn for their suspected role in the April 2008 mosque bombing in Shiraz, Iran. The mosque bombing killed 13 people and left 200 others wounded. 9 others were also found guilty of “moharebeh”, or being enemies of God, as they were arrested in the midst of the December Ashura protests.

This is being viewed as an attempt to frighten protesters before the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Republic on February 11, where anti-government rallies are to be expected.

“Following the riots and anti revolutionary and foundation-breaking actions of last few months, especially on the day of Ashura, Tehran’s revolutionary court has sentenced 11 people to death,” the semiofficial ISNA news service reported.

Amnesty International further reports that Iran is second to China in rate of executions; President Ahmadinejad’s execution rate has nearly quadrupled, from 86 in 2005, the year he initially took office, up to 346 in 2008. Human rights groups additionally report that over 115 have been killed since the disputed June presidential elections and Ahmadinejad’s August inauguration.

Notably, Zamani and Rahamipour’s family members state that the two were arrested before the election, and were not involved in the post-election protests.

In an interview in October with the Rooz Online Web site, Mr. Rahmanipour’s lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, said that his client was actually arrested in late March or April. “He has nothing to do with the election or the post-election events,” Mr. Sotoudeh said at the time. “They tried to create fear when he was arrested and even arrested his pregnant sister.”

Adding to the confusion of Mr. Alizamani’s arrest, some Iranian news sites report that he was detained before the protests. Regardless of the causes of arrest, the executions are seemingly intended as defense; the Iranian governments is apparently gearing itself for another round of opposition come February 11th.

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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