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  • 20 November 2009
  • Posted By NIAC
  • Congress, Human Rights in Iran

NIAC Welcomes Senate Passage of Iran Human Rights Resolution

Washington, DC – The National Iranian American Council applauds the Senate’s passage yesterday of S.Res.355, which condemned Iran’s deplorable human rights record, urged the restoration of meaningful human rights to all of Iran’s citizens, and called for an immediate release of those wrongfully imprisoned in violation of their rights.

NIAC President Trita Parsi called the resolution “a step forward” in bringing greater worldwide attention to Iran’s human rights abuses against innocent civilians.  “US policymakers have to bring a greater focus to the human rights problems in Iran; a strategy that focuses only on Iran’s nuclear program and ignores the suffering of the Iranian people will not be successful” Parsi said.

Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) addressed the Senate chamber yesterday about Iran’s human rights abuses, saying “recent events have made abundantly clear that the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran is failing, and failing badly, to live up to its own professed ideals and its international commitments to protect the human rights of its citizens and others.”  He, alongside Senators McCain (R-AZ), Casey (D-PA), Graham (R-SC), Nelson (R-NE), Corker (R-TN), and Lieberman (I-CT), submitted the resolution earlier this week and secured its passage in only two days.

Speaking of the resolution, Senator Levin, who chairs the Senate’s Armed Services Committee, said “It is proper and appropriate for the Senate to make clear its determination that these acts violate international human rights standards, Iran’s own professed commitments, and common decency.”

A similar but unrelated resolution supporting the Iranian people’s struggle for rights is pending in the House of Representatives, introduced last week by Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX) with Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC), and Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA).  So far, Representatives Wolf (R-VA), Shuler (D-NC), and Manzullo (R-IL) have signed on to that effort.

  • 25 July 2008
  • Posted By Emily Blout
  • Diplomacy, Legislative Agenda

Seven Senators Call for US Interests Section in Iran

Seven senators have taken a pro-active approach to recent talk about opening up an interest section in Iran. On Thursday, Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) sent a letter to the President to offer congressional support for a limited diplomatic presence in the country.  The following is  the press release from Senator Murray’s  office.

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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