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Posts Tagged ‘ National Iranian American Council ’

  • 15 February 2011
  • Posted By NIAC
  • Congress, Human Rights in Iran, Legislative Agenda, UN

NIAC Applauds Senate Call for Human Rights Monitor

NIAC applauds Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) and 23 other Senators who today called for the Obama Administration to work with the international community to establish an independent U.N. human rights monitor on Iran when the U.N. Human Rights Council convenes this March. The action taken by the Senators in support of greater international scrutiny of Iran’s human rights abuses comes just one day after thousands of Iranians defied threats from the Iranian government by taking to the streets in solidarity with the people of Egypt and Tunisia and expressing their own aspirations for democracy and rule of law.

The Senators endorsed this action in a letter to Secretary Clinton that was strongly supported by NIAC.

“The establishment of a U.N. human rights monitor is an important, overdue step to address the Iranian government’s abuses,” said Jamal Abdi, NIAC Policy Director. “Iran’s destiny can only be decided by the Iranian people, but as human rights violations continue in Iran, the international community must be loud and clear that universal rights must be respected.”

The Senate letter is critical of the Human Rights Council’s failure to take any concrete measures to address Iran’s human rights situation in the time that has followed Iran’s disputed June 2009 elections. The letter states, “Establishing an independent U.N. human rights monitor charged with monitoring and reporting on Iran’s human rights violations is an important effort to provide some protection for Iran’s human rights and democracy movement.”

NIAC has joined Iranian human rights defenders like Shirin Ebadi and international human rights organizations like Human Rights Watch in calling for the UN to establish an independent human rights monitor on Iran.

“The United Nations has appointed human rights monitors to address human rights crises in other countries, but not in Iran,” said Abdi. “The Iranian people deserve better.”

The following senators signed the letter to Secretary Clinton: Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), Kirsten E. Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-Penn.), Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), and Tom Udall (D-N.M).

Following is the text of the letter:

  • 15 April 2010
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • Immigration Policy, Iranian American activism, Legislative Agenda

Tell President Obama to Fix the Single-Entry Visa Policy for Iranian Students in the US

So many Iranian Americans began their journey in the U.S. as students, but now that path is becoming increasingly closed. Not only is it more difficult for Iranians to obtain visas to study in the U.S., but Iranian students are only eligible for single-entry visas.

This means that Iranians studying in the U.S. cannot visit their family or travel abroad without losing their student visa. Even in emergencies—such as if a family member falls ill—or academic opportunities—such as an international conference—Iranian students who leave the U.S. cannot come back unless they start the entire application process over again and obtain a brand new visa.

President Obama stated in his recent Norooz message that he is “committed to increasing opportunities for educational exchanges so that Iranian students can come to our colleges and universities.”

We should thank the President for this commitment, but we must also take this opportunity to say: Mr. President, please fix the “single-entry only” student visa policy that unnecessarily burdens all Iranians studying in the U.S.

Send a letter urging President Obama to address the single-entry only policy so that Iranian students in the U.S. can visit their families, attend international conferences, and travel abroad for personal and educational purposes.

  • 13 January 2010
  • Posted By NIAC
  • Civil Rights Legislation, Immigration Policy

Breaking News: Language to Deport Iranians Dropped from STEP Act

Major Victory for Iranian-American Community

Washington DC – Congressman Gresham Barrett’s (R-SC) office has confirmed to NIAC that he will drop language aimed at deporting non-immigrant Iranians from the U.S. when he reintroduces the Stop Terrorists Entry Program (STEP) Act today.

This is a major victory for the Iranian-American community.

When the STEP Act was first introduced in 2003, it contained provisions that would have mandated the deportation of all Iranians on student visas, temporary work visas, exchange visas, and tourist visas from the United States within 60 days.

On Tuesday, NIAC staff hand-delivered over 3,500 letters from concerned Americans, asking the Congressman to reconsider his legislation.

Though the elimination of the deportation provisions constitutes a significant victory for the Iranian-American community, the bill remains problematic. It would make it illegal for Iranians to travel to the United States, though some exceptions may be made for medical emergencies and political or religious asylum after “extensive federal screening.”

“Eliminating the deportation provisions is welcomed but it isn’t enough,” said Trita Parsi, President of NIAC. “We shouldn’t make it more difficult for Iranians to seek refuge in the US at a time when repression in Iran is increasing.”

  • 3 January 2010
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • Congress, Diplomacy, Events in Iran, Sanctions

U.S. Decides to Punish Iranian Regime, Not People

Cross-posted from the Huffington Post

Last week countless protesters across Iran made yet another brave stand against their government, in an event that had political reverberations across the world. The continued demonstration of strength by the Iranian opposition has not only showed the increasing isolation of Iran’s ruling elite, but also helped cement a dramatic policy shift that has been quietly taking shape in the White House. Rather than pursuing “crippling sanctions” against Iran’s entire economy — and crushing the middle class that makes up the backbone of the opposition movement — the White House has decided to instead focus harsh sanctions on specific elements of the Iranian government, according to senior administration officials speaking to the Washington PostLA Times, and Reuters. This is the culmination of a dramatically changed debate in Washington, and comes in stark contrast to the indiscriminate approach many in Congress favor. But it is exactly the approach that prominent leaders in the green movement and groups like the National Iranian American Council have supported for months.

  • 10 November 2009
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • Congress

NIAC rejects Rep. Kirk’s accusation

Cross-posted from

The National Iranian American Council issued the following statement today, in response to Rep. Mark Kirk’s (R-IL) slanderous allegation last week that NIAC is a “regime sympathizer.”

Representative Kirk spoke last week before the US Institute of Peace, and issued his allegation against NIAC saying: “Regime-sympathizers like the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) came to Capitol Hill urging members of Congress to cut off U.S. funding for democracy programs in Iran. Democracy funding ‘taints’ Iranian dissidents, they claimed, and only invites harsher crackdowns on the Iranian people.”  He provided no explanation backing up his statement, nor did he acknowledge that the foremost leaders of Iran’s pro-democracy movement have denounced the very same Congressional “regime change fund” that Kirk has championed.

NIAC communicated with Representative Kirk’s office immediately after his statement, requesting a retraction. His office refused to respond.

  • 14 October 2009
  • Posted By Matt Sugrue
  • Congress, Sanctions

House Passes Iran Divestment Bill

The House of Representatives today approved a bill that permits state and local governments to divest any public funds from companies that do more than $20 million a year in business with Iran’s energy sector. The bill, known as the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act of 2009, passed by a vote of 414 – 6.

Supporters of the bill, introduced by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), believe that divestment and sanctions in general will help pressure Iran’s government over its nuclear program. Frank said the bill makes it “very clear” that Americans are concerned about Iran’s nuclear program, and the bill permits them to address their concerns.

One of the dissenting votes was cast by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) who said, “I don’t think the sanctions are going to help with the talks. I don’t think sanctions are going to assist us in our efforts to try to bring Iran into a new position in the world community.”

  • 16 September 2009
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • Diplomacy, Human Rights in Iran

NIAC Calls for Human Rights to be Included in Diplomacy with Iran

Washington DC – On the announcement of the P5+1 meeting with Iran on October 1 and the initiation of diplomatic talks, the National Iranian American Council issued the following statement.

On October 1, the P5+1, consisting of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany, are scheduled to begin talks with Iran. The National Iranian American Council strongly urges that human rights play an important role in these talks. NIAC continues to believe that diplomacy with Iran is the right path to pursue as it has the highest likelihood of resolving US-Iran tensions over the nuclear issue, but it would be a mistake to engage with Iran without including human rights on the agenda.

Iran’s deep political divisions following the election violence and widespread human rights abuses raise questions about the country’s ability to deliver on any negotiation. Delaying diplomacy until there is greater political clarity would have been preferable. But in the absence of that, it is all the more important to include human rights on the agenda.

Failing to raise human rights in the talks would send the Iranian government a dangerous message of international indifference to the plight of the Iranian people. The P5+1 meeting provides a critical platform to press the Iranian government on its abysmal human rights record.

NIAC believes that Iran’s human rights record is no less pressing or important than its enrichment program in rehabilitating the country into a responsible and constructive actor in the global community.

  • 27 August 2009
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • Congress, Diplomacy, Human Rights in Iran, Sanctions

A new Iran policy for Congress

Here at NIAC, we don’t just blog. In fact, that’s a rather small part of what we do. NIAC is a grassroots organization that seeks to advance the interests of the Iranian-American community by supplying the resources, knowledge and tools to enable greater civic participation by Iranian Americans and informed decision making by lawmakers.

For the past few years, our membership has placed the highest priority on preventing a catastrophic war between the United States and Iran. Last year, we played a key role defeating a Congressional resolution that would have paved the way for a US-Iran war.

Since President Obama took office, the threat of war has receded — but not gone away — so we’ve focused a great deal on how diplomacy can be used to increase U.S. national security.

When the election crisis erupted, we advised President Obama to categorically condemn the Iranian government’s use of violence and human rights abuses. We have since argued that we should have a tactical pause before attempting to engage Iran in any diplomacy.

The role of Congress is more difficult. Congress remains fixated on imposing indiscriminate sanctions on Iran. We oppose the “crippling” economic sanctions being considered because they will hurt the people and strengthen the hardliners’ grip on civil society.

NIAC is fighting to ensure that U.S. policies work to support, not undermine, the struggle of the Iranian people for their natural rights. We are hard at work developing alternatives. We can’t share the details yet because Congress is in the middle of a five week vacation, but stay tuned…

NIAC Member Survey

Iran at a Crossroads: NIAC Member Survey


The violence erupting in the aftermath of the Iran elections has left very few around the world untouched. At NIAC, we have followed the developments extremely closely and have been at the forefront of the debate in the U.S. on how our government should respond. Thanks to your help, NIAC is recognized as one of the key groups shaping U.S. policy towards Iran.

Policymakers want to hear from Iranian Americans and the broader public alike. We need your input to accurately represent your views. Now, more than ever, we need to hear how recent events have impacted your views of U.S. policy towards Iran, and we have developed this survey to ask some key questions and get your responses.

Please click here to take the survey and share your views with us. If you are not currently a NIAC member, click here to join and become part of the dialogue on the future of US policy on Iran.

The time to affect change is now. Give us your input today!

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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