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Posts Tagged ‘ Sahra Bahrami ’

  • 1 February 2011
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • Human Rights in Iran, UN

Execution of Dutch-Iranian Woman Demonstrates Need for Greater International Pressure on Rights

Zahra BahramiOn Saturday, Iranian-born Dutch citizen Sahra Bahrami was executed purportedly on charges of drug smuggling.  Bahrami was first detained in December 2009 for “security crimes,” but her family believes that she was executed for her involvement in the 2009 Ashura protests while visiting family members in Iran.  In violation of Iranian law, Bahrami’s own Iranian attorney, Jinoos Sharif Razi, and family members were not even informed of when her execution took place.

Despite her possession of Dutch citizenship and passport, Bahrami was denied access to the Dutch consulate because Iran does not recognize dual citizenship.  Gharib Abadi, the Iranian ambassador to the Netherlands, even went so far as to say that “the hanging was ‘an internal issue’ that should have no impact on diplomatic relations.”  Of course, it did, and the Netherlands immediately froze all diplomatic relations with Iran in response to Bahrami’s execution.  On Monday, the European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton and the U.S. State Department called for an immediate halt on all pending executions.  The EU Foreign Affairs Committee also passed a resolution today calling for a focus on Iran’s human rights violations targeted sanctions against “Iranian officials responsible for serious human rights abuses,” mirroring the policy advocated by NIAC and implemented by the United States last September.

Sahra Bahrami’s case is yet another indication that Iran is on an “execution binge.”  From December 19 to January 19, Iran executed 97 prisoners, including four prisoners of conscience. That’s one execution every eight hours.  Such an extensive problem requires a global, systematic response, not one-off statements or reactions.

In March, the international community will have the opportunity to confront Iran’s human rights abuses at the United Nations Human Rights Council.  In particular, the Council can establish a mandate for an international human rights monitor to focus much-needed international scrutiny on Iran’s human rights crisis.  Strong U.S. leadership on the council is required in order for any substantive action to take place since other concerned countries almost always look to the United States for leadership.  Iran will moderate its human rights abuses when it comes under severe international scrutiny, as the  suspension of Sakineh Ashtiani’s sentence to death by stoning demonstrates.

A human rights monitor can create space for Iran’s human rights and democracy movement by keeping the attention of the international community focused on the abuses transpiring in Iran.  When a U.N. human rights monitor was in place for Iran from 1984 to 2002, measurable progress on Iran’s human rights was achieved.  But since the mandate for the human rights monitor was discontinued in 2002, human rights conditions in Iran have significantly worsened, especially after the fraudulent June 2009 elections.

It is an outrage that the Human Rights Council has not already established a human rights monitor for Iran, but to miss yet another opportunity to do so while so many Iranians continue to suffer would be unconscionable.

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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.



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