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  • 9 August 2009
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • 0 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Sunday News Roundup

Washington Post: With Iran Blaming West, Dual Citizens Are Targets

Among the more than 100 people on trial after Iran’s disputed presidential election are two dual citizens: Kian Tajbakhsh, 47, an American Iranian urban planner, and Maziar Bahari, 42, a Canadian Iranian filmmaker and Newsweek reporter.

 

New York Times: Iran Prosecutor General Acknowledges Torture

A top judiciary official acknowledged Saturday that some detainees arrested after post-election protests had been tortured in Iranian prisons, the first such acknowledgment by a senior Iranian official. […]

 

Speaking to reporters at a news conference, Qorbanali Dori-Najafabadi, the prosecutor general, said “mistakes” had led to a few “painful accidents which cannot be defended, and those who were involved should be punished.”

 

Such mistakes, he said, included “the Kahrizak incident,” a reference to the deaths of several detainees at Kahrizak detention center in southwestern Tehran.

 

His comments came after weeks of reports that detainees had been tortured, and they fell somewhere between an admission and an accusation, as most of the arrests were made by the Revolutionary Guards and the paramilitary Basij militia, groups that are not under the control of the judiciary.

 

Even so, the statement was likely to be incendiary in Iran, where allegations of torture by Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi became a central justification of the 1979 revolution that brought the hard-line clerics to power.

 

Detainees’ accusations of torture have already prompted a parliamentary investigation of abuses at Kahrizak, which was closed last month by order of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

 

Mr. Dori-Najafabadi said his team had tried to change the situation after taking control of the arrests last month, the ILNA news agency reported, and he encouraged people to come forward with complaints.

 

“Maybe there were cases of torture in the early days after the election,” he was quoted as saying, “but we are willing to follow up any complaints or irregularities that have taken place.”

 

In another indication of dissension, he said a special judiciary committee had recommended the release of Saeed Hajjarian, a prominent reformist. Mr. Hajjarian’s family said he had been tortured, and has expressed concern about his health. Last week, the Iranian authorities said Mr. Hajjarian had been moved to a site with access to doctors.

 

Mr. Dori-Najafabadi also said that about 100 people had been arrested every day after the post-election demonstrations began, and that there were efforts to release about the same number daily. There are nearly 200 detainees today, he said.

 

 

Iran’s Police Chief admits election demonstrators were tortured

Iran’s police chief admitted today that protesters arrested after June’s disputed presidential election had been tortured while in custody in a notorious prison in south-west Tehran. But he denied any of the detainees died as a result of their mistreatment.

 

In remarks reported by state-run media, General Ismail Ahmadi Moghaddam said the chief of the Kahrizak detention centre had been dismissed and punished.

 

“The head of the centre has been sacked and jailed. Three policemen who beat detainees have been jailed as well,” the official IRNA news agency quoted Moghaddam as saying.

IRGC Commander: Arrest Mousavi, Karroubi, & Khatami

“If Mousavi, (defeated candidate Mehdi) Karoubi and (former president Mohammad) Khatami are main suspects behind the soft revolution in Iran, which they are, we expect the judiciary … to go after them, arrest them, put them on trial and punish them,” said Yadollah Javan, a senior Guards commander, the official IRNA news agency reported.

U.S. National Security Advisor Calls for Release of Americans in Iran

The United States has sent strong messages to Iran urging the release of three American hikers who were detained there recently, U.S. national security adviser Jim Jones said on Sunday.

 

“We have sent strong messages that we would like these three young people released as soon as possible, and also others that they have in their custody as well,” Jones told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” The Iranian government acknowledged on Sunday that it had the three Americans in its custody, he said.

Fars News: Ahmadinejad to introduce new cabinet next Monday.

Shirin Ebadi calls for release of detainees.

Press TV: Iran Police Chief blamed for Kahrizak prison deaths

Hamid-Reza Katouzian, a member of the Principlist faction that holds the majority of seats in the Parliament (Majlis), said Wednesday that Iran’s Police Chief, Esmail Ahmadi-Moqaddam, is responsible for the death and abuse of detained opposition demonstrators in Kahrizak.

 

“Unfortunately, the gross misconduct of Kahrizak officials have resulted in the murder of scores of young people,” said Katouzian. “The Iranian Police Chief is duty bound to provide a clear explanation in this regard.”

 

Robin Wright: In Iran, a Hostage-Taker Is Now Hostage

This new purge may be more profound politically than the campaign against the followers of Mir Hossein Mousavi: The Iranian revolution is eating its children.

 

Mohsen Mirdamadi saw it all coming. He warned me about it five years ago. The only thing he didn’t foresee was his own role. Last week, he sat in a revolutionary court, dressed in gray prison pajamas, as one of its victims. 

  • 9 August 2009
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • 0 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

L.A. Times: Mass Trial Backfiring

The L.A. Times examines the significance of Iran’s mass trials:

Not only have they [the trails] failed to silence the opposition or quell protests, including one that erupted outside the court building as the proceedings were underway Saturday, analysts said, but they appear to be badly damaging the international credibility of the Iranian judiciary and political systems.

Even among five supporters of Ahmadinejad approached in Tehran on Saturday, all but one said they believed the stilted confessions being read by the defendants were forced, especially those of prominent figures such as former reformist Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi.

The trial, observers said, may be the symptom of fierce fighting within the country’s institutions, an attempt to build a case against the opposition by hard-line political novices loyal to Ahmadinejad.

By provocatively showcasing confessions by the French citizen, Iranian American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh and Iranian Canadian Newsweek reporter Maziar Bahari, as well as by British and French embassy staff, the trials will almost certainly further Iran’s diplomatic isolation, highlight its sometimes erratic political system and lower its leverage just as the West and Tehran are considering diplomatic talks as a way to resolve differences over the Iranian nuclear program.

Many wonder about the ultimate goal of the trial. Some analysts suspect that the proceedings, which even some Iranian conservatives have criticized, highlighted a hurried and botched attempt by hard-liners to build a legal case against Mousavi and his powerful allies, former President Mohammad Khatami and Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

“It could be that they’re trying to frame one specific person, potentially Rafsanjani, which could explain why he’s been so quiet lately,” said one analyst in Tehran, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “He’s probably lobbying and working to ensure that they don’t succeed. But failing that, which appears to be the case, they’ll go for another scenario.”

Factional battles have long shaken the country’s political establishment, foiling its attempts at achieving consensus on big issues, such as relations with the West.

In the past, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was able to impose such consensus. But it appears this time he is unable to paper over the differences between various camps. Analysts fear the trial is symptomatic of a far deeper fissure that could make it difficult for the Obama administration to engage with Iran diplomatically, as it has vowed to do.

The last point reinforces the notion that the U.S. government should consider a tactical pause before engaging in high-level diplomacy with Iran.

  • 8 August 2009
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • 0 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Iran’s State Media

As the LA Times story below makes clear, the Iranian government is trying to portray the massive demonstrations in Tehran and other cities across Iran as part of a foreign conspiracy against Iran and a threat to the nation. A quick look at the article titles at the semi-official Fars News Agency confirms this:

This is the way the trial’s defendants are being portrayed in Iran:

The 100 culprits that are put to trail at these series of hearing sessions are categorized in three groups, namely the “plotters, intriguers, and planners of the riots”, “the antagonists and those affiliated to foreign services”, and “the opportunists, hooligans, and hoodlums who set ablaze, or destroyed private and public properties, and those that have had hands in disturbing public security.”

The first hearing session of this kind was held on Saturday August 1st, in which big shot culprits, including the head of former President Seyed Mohammad Khatami’s Presidential Office Hojjatoleslam Mohammad Ali Abtahi and renowned reformist journalist Mohammad Atrianfar presented their defense.

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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