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Posts Tagged ‘ Time Person of the Year 2009 ’

  • 17 December 2009
  • Posted By NIAC
  • 11 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Where are their votes this TIME?

Credit Corbis

It is widely believed that millions of Iranian voters had their votes stolen during June’s Presidential election. Now, once again, the Iranian people had their votes taken away when Time Magazine awarded Ben Bernanke the honor of Person of the Year.

For those of you who, like me, were upset that Time didn’t choose the Iranian protesters as their person of the year, there is some consolation knowing that the rest of the world did.

In fact, more than 536,000 people recognized their courage and voted for the Iranian protesters outnumbered the 2nd and 3rd runners up combined. Despite that, it was disheartening to see them eliminated from Time’s shortlist which appeared on Tuesday, a day before announcing their final choice of Ben Bernanke. (See the full results here).

But, why even conduct a poll, or election for that matter, if the votes aren’t going to be counted?

Seeing as the title is Person of the year, perhaps Time wanted to walk away from awarding the prize to another group. If you remember in 2006, Time received a lot of criticisms for choosing “YOU” as person of the year. So why even include the “Chinese worker” on their shortlist, especially if they weren’t in the initial poll? (See the short list here)

If Time did not want to choose another group, then why not choose Neda, who has come to symbolize the struggle for democracy in Iran? It seems like she fit their description of a person who, “most affected the news and our lives, for good or ill, and embodied what was important about the year.” Apparently they rarely give awards to people who are dead (Einstein was the only one, but he was Person of the Century). Though if you ask anyone who follows the plight of the Iranian people, Neda is far from dead—her memory carries on as she continues to move thousands in Iran to hit the streets and inspire countless artists around the world. Who else has done all of this without uttering a word?

The Iranian government wants more than anything for people to forget Neda, and the other millions of protesters—they’ve gone so far as to call her murder staged and refused to let people visit her unmarked grace. In a way, Time has done part of their Iranian government’s job for them.

Perhaps Time didn’t realize the impact that this award could have had for the Iranian people. While I’m sure Bernanke is happy about his award and perhaps it will put pressure on him to really fix the economy this time the impact of the award for the Iranian people would have been much more tangible. Honoring them would have shown Iran that the world is still watching; as a result, putting pressure on the government to reform its behavior. The Iranian people want to be part of the international community, but how can they, especially if we fail to recognize them?

Time is not solely to blame; in fact, this Person of the Year episode is symptomatic of most media—in the words of one disappointed protester “typical short memory Americans.”

The Iranian people have shown us that the Green movement is not just a trend. They’ve shown their ingenuity as they’ve turned insults into rallying points, (see the campaign to free Majid Tavakoli), money into organizing flyers and they continue to break Iranian government’s internet filters  to keep us informed of their activities. Won’t we at least do them the honor by paying attention longer than a few weeks?

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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