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JARAS: Tajbakhsh to be Released from Prison

According to the Jaras website, the most prominent Iranian opposition website, Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh, top researcher and sociology professor from Columbia University will be released from prison for Norooz, most likely by the end of today.

Citing an unnamed source, Jaras is reporting that Dr. Tajbakhsh will be released by tonight or tomorrow. It appears that the Iranian government is releasing a large number of its political prisoners for Norooz, though the judiciary has set outrageous bail amounts for each detainee. It is reported that Dr. Tajbakhsh’s bail is set at $500,000 US.

Dr. Tajbakhsh, an Iranian American who holds dual citizenship, was arrested in the aftermath of June 2009 disputed election, and has been sentenced to five years in prison for his alleged political activities against the establishment. Following the great international outcry by a variety of human rights organizations, Tajbakhsh’s original sentencing of fifteen years was reconsidered by an appellate court and was later reduced to five years instead.

NIAC has repeatedly called for Tajbakhsh release, as well as for the release of all political prisoners in Iran.

  • 17 December 2009
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • 2 Comments
  • Human Rights in Iran

Lawyer says case against Tajbakhsh devoid of evidence

Kian TajbakhshThe International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran is asserting that the case against Iranian-American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh “contains no evidence to support the allegations against him,” based on conversations with Tajbakhsh’s lawyer who has studied the prosecution’s entire case against Tajbakhsh. Tajbakhsh was sentenced to 15 years in prison for “espionage”.

There is apparently no correlation between the evidence in his file and the conviction and sentencing of Tajbakhsh, while the file itself is evidence of the blatantly political and arbitrary nature of the case.  Espionage is closely defined under Iranian law, and guilt needs to be established by evidence that highly confidential documents were passed to foreign governments. There are no references to such documents in the file.The file, only recently seen by Shafie, contains video clips of public demonstrations that Tajbakhsh allegedly emailed which hardly qualify as confidential or classified government documents.  Tajbakhsh had no access to such documents in any event.

The Campaign goes on to document the numerous breaches of Tajbakhsh’s rights. (More below the fold):

  • 25 November 2009
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • 2 Comments
  • Human Rights in Iran

Iran Adds Espionage Charges Against Iranian-American

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has more very concerning news about Iranian-American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh:

Earlier this week, Tajbakhsh was brought in front of the Third Branch of the Security Court,  which is a new court  created and controlled apparently by the Revolutionary Guards to prosecute dissidents. He was charged with new allegations of spying based on emails he wrote to Middle East specialists on the Gulf 2000 list, which includes hundreds of experts, diplomats, and journalists. According to information received by the Campaign, high ranking Revolutionary Guards commanders initiated the new charges against Tajbakhsh. He is currently held in solitary confinement in Evin prison and denied release on bail.

Tajbakhsh has been already sentenced to 15 years in prison by a lower court, which charged him with multiple counts, including “acting against national security, by membership in the internet network related to Gary Sick, a CIA agent, and other foreign elements with the purpose of urging people to riot in presidential elections; spying and connections with foreign elements against the sacred system of the Islamic Republic; accepting a consultancy position with the Soros Foundation aimed at the soft overthrow of the Islamic Republic of Iran; propaganda activities against the sacred system of the Islamic Republic by participation in illegal assemblies and causing doubt and giving impression of fraud and cheating in election results; and causing lack of public trust towards the official national organs and the ruling system by instigating rioting, mayhem, fear and terror within the society.” No evidence was presented in Tajbakhsh’s trial to support these grave charges.

NIAC condemned the sentencing of Tajbakhsh last month.

  • 25 August 2009
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • 0 Comments
  • Human Rights in Iran

Iranian American pushed to center stage in show trial

State-funded Press TV reports on the latest person to be targeted in the trials today: Iranian-American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh. Predictably, the forced confession describes a conspiracy to overthrow the Islamic Republic led by Iran’s top reformists.

In a Tuesday court session in Tehran, Tajbakhsh, a former member of the Soros Foundation in Iran, said in his defense statement that former president Khatami and Mohammad-Javad Zarif, the then Iranian envoy to the United Nations, met George Soros, the founder of the network, in 2006.

Tajbakhsh said the meeting was part of a plan, which began in 1997, when Khatami took office, to ‘overthrow’ the system. He added that Khatami has been ‘constantly’ in contact with the Soros Foundation since then.

“Because of the support of some officials from the Reformist camp…a safe place was created for the cooperation of domestic and foreign forces…and American political parties and NGOs found a way to start activities in Iran,” Tajbakhsh added.

NIAC called for the release of Kian Tajbakhsh and other political prisoners last month. You can sign the petition seeking his release here.

  • 25 July 2009
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • 0 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Friends, Family of Kian Tajbakhsh concerned about upcoming ‘show trial’

The following comes from an email from friends and colleagues of Kian Tajbakhsh, the Iranian American intellectual detained in Iran.

We are extremely worried about Kian. The following has been approved by the family for posting. We have heard the show trials will start tomorrow, and there seems to be a distinct disconnect between heavy coverage of the upcoming trials in the Persian media and no coverage of them in the western media.

We would like to keep the trials and detainees in the spotlight. Could you please help us? We’ve been in touch with many media outlets as Kian instructed in case he was arrested again.

Please post and direct members to http://www.FreeKian09.org where they can sign the online petition. 

The airing of the much-anticipated show trail(s) featuring forced statements by political prisoners has become a major point of contention between the leadership and opposition, with the Revolutionary Guards Corps determined to hold them, possibly beginning this weekend.

The statement follows:

*Family and Friends of Detained Iranian American Scholar Kian Tajbakhsh Strongly Deny Accusations by Iranian Authorities and Denounce Iran’s Use of Forced Statements by Political Prisoners *

In Iran’s first official acknowledgment of Kian’s arrest on July 9, Iranian Press TV  reported on Monday that “Iranian authorities detained Tajbakhsh on grounds of cooperating with Hossein Rassam, the head of the security and political
division of the British Embassy in Tehran, who is also in custody over post-election turmoil.”

These false accusations are entirely groundless. Those who know Kian understand that his persecution by Iranian authorities is not only tragic but ironic—as a social scientist and urban planner he has always sought political neutrality in an effort to bridge cultural divides and honor his much-loved homeland. His work is a valued asset that the Government of Iran should seek to protect.

The Iranian state television report on Kian’s arrest also notes that “Iran blames foreign powers, the US and Britain in particular, for what it calls interference in its internal affairs and post-vote disturbances, which have claimed the lives of at least 20 people.”

We are concerned that Kian is being held in an attempt by the Iranian authorities to obtain forced statements from him to use in a televised show trial. It is exceedingly important that we all strongly denounce Iran’s serial practice of extracting forced statements from political prisoners. Such statements are repeatedly extracted under conditions of torture for the sole purpose of staging televised show trials in an attempt to deceive the Iranian public.

Sign the Petition

 

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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.

Sincerely,

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