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Posts Tagged ‘ Trita Parsi ’

  • 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.

  • 13 November 2009
  • Posted By NIAC
  • MEK, Neo-Con Agenda

NIAC Stands by its Record of Pursuing Peace Through Diplomacy

The following statement was issued by NIAC in response to today’s article in the Washington Times:

Washington DC – NIAC is proud of its work to advance US national security through a smarter and more effective policy on Iran. NIAC rejects the insinuations made by Washington Times that its activities are in violation of tax laws, the Foreign Agents Registration Act and lobbying disclosure laws.

NIAC has provided tens of thousands of documents and all its financial records in order to prosecute a defamation case against Hassan Dai. Those documents prove the allegations made against NIAC are completely false. The judge denied Dai’s motion to dismiss the case on 18 out of 19 counts. Realizing this, the defendants have decided to maliciously leak those documents to a reporter at the Washington Times, Eli Lake, in an attempt to litigate the case in the media rather than in a court of law.

NIAC is a 501 (c)3 educational organization representing Americans of Iranian descent. It engages in educational, advocacy and limited lobbying activities in accordance with US laws and regulations. NIAC does not lobby on behalf of the Islamic Republic. NIAC advocates on behalf of the Iranian-American community, who overwhelmingly oppose the policies of the government of Iran.

Mr. Lake’s article does not present any evidence for any of its claims and stops short of making any direct accusations. Instead, it makes insinuations and engages in conspiratorial speculation, presumably with the aim of sowing seeds of doubt in the minds of the public about NIAC and fabricating a controversy around the organization.

This follows by now a familiar pattern in which neo-conservative activists have sought to smear and defame NIAC by making accusations, innuendos and speculation, without providing any evidence to back their claims.

In fact, evidence is to the contrary. Why would Ambassador John Limbert, a former hostage imprisoned for 444 days by the government in Iran, join the advisory board of an organization that supposedly represents the interests of the very same government that imprisoned him? This claim is illogical at best and ludicrous at worst.

Mr. Lake has selectively focused on emails and documents that fit with his pre-determined verdict against NIAC. Though the basis of Lake’s article is misinformation about NIAC provided by Hassan Dai, Lake did not ask a single question about our lawsuit, why it was filed, our understanding of Dai’s political motivations and Dai’s connections to the Iranian terrorist organization, the Mujahedin-e Khalq.  NIAC encouraged Lake to investigate the evidence of Dai’s role in the Mujahedin-e Khalq. However, Lake declined to investigate his own sources.

It is clear that some neo-conservative elements wish to divide the Iranian Diaspora at a time when unity is needed more than ever for the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people to be achieved. While some prominent figures in the Iranian Diaspora have misunderstood NIAC’s activities, we are reaching out to them and we refuse to walk into this trap of pitting members of the community against each other.

NIAC has given the Iranian-American community a powerful voice in Washington DC that has effectively pushed for greater focus on human rights in Iran, opposed war between the US and Iran, opposed broad-based sanctions that hurt the Iranian people while strengthening its hard-line government, and supported diplomacy between the two countries to resolve their differences in a peaceful manner.

The US & Iran: Between Human Rights, Diplomacy & Sanctions

The National Iranian American Council is pleased to announce we will be having a policy conference on Wednesday, November 4, 2009 in Dirksen Senate Office Building G-50.

The conference will run from 9 AM to 12.30 PM and will feature two panels; the first will assess the human rights and political situation in Iran and the second will assess President Obama’s diplomacy.

For more information, please visit To RSVP, please send an email with your name, title and organization (if any) to rsvp at

  • 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.”

  • 12 September 2009
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • Human Rights in Iran, UN

What’s going on at the UN?

NIAC recently obtained an advance copy of an upcoming speech by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights highlighting human rights concerns around the world. Understanding that her past statements on Iran have been inadequate, we were very concerned to see what she was planning to say:

The recent elections in Iran and the subsequent protests over the result were a reminder of both the vitality of Iran’s civil society and political life, but also of the towering constraints that peaceful activism faces. I call on the government to release those detained for peaceful protest, to investigate reports of their ill-treatment, and to ensure respect for human rights.

That’s it. Two sentences in a nine page speech.

Our President, Dr. Trita Parsi, corresponded with the L.A. Times’ Borzou Daragahi about the issue, pointing out how there is “no mention of government-sponsored violence, repression, show trials, [or] who is responsible for those ‘towering constraints.'”

Furthermore, he said, “When [the High Commissioner for Human Rights] discusses oppression in other countries, she mentions the names of specific victims, yet she doesn’t mention the names of any Iranians. The entire world knows the name of Neda Agha Soltan, but she and the many human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists in jail and on trial go unnamed.”

The people of Iran who have demonstrated at great risk for their rights have made one simple demand over and over: bear witness to our struggle. Their bravery must not be ignored.

As Dr. Parsi told the L.A. Times:

“In an isolated country like Iran, where there are limited human rights protections and no human rights mechanisms or human rights [organization] networks at the national or regional level to address or bring attention to the plight of victims, the U.N. high commissioner’s role in spotlighting abuses becomes even more critical,” he said.

“She has failed to recognize this need,” he added.

We can only hope that by pointing out the inadequacy of her words, the High Commissioner for Human Rights will realize that she needs to take a stronger stand on the human rights abuses occurring in Iran. The world is watching.

  • 3 September 2009
  • Posted By Matthew Negreanu
  • Events in DC, Events in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Washington Times: Obama wrote to Ayatollah Khamenei

From the Washington Times this morning:

President Obama sent a second letter to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, before Iran’s disputed presidential elections, an Iranian-American activist says. The Washington Times reported in June that Mr. Obama wrote to Ayatollah Khamenei in May seeking talks and improved relations between the longtime adversaries.

An Iranian Web site, Tabnak, reported Wednesday that the president had sent a second letter, but did not provide a date.

An Iranian individual familiar with the report told The Washington Times that the second letter arrived two weeks ago via the Swiss Embassy in Tehran. The individual, who asked not to be named because he was discussing sensitive matters, said the letter asked for “better cooperation” between the two countries, which have not had diplomatic relations since 1980. White House officials cast doubt on the report but declined to deny it on the record.

“There have been multiple ways that communication has taken place with Iran,” White House spokesman Tommy Vietor wrote in an e-mail. “We do not discuss the details or modalities of those communications.” Trita Parsi, head of the National Iranian-American Council, a group that represents Iranians in the U.S., said Ayatollah Khamenei had responded to Mr. Obama’s first letter and that Mr. Obama then sent another letter to the Iranian leader.

Mr. Parsi, who did not disclose the contents of the letters, said that the entire exchange took place prior to the June 12 presidential elections, which handed a disputed victory to incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Since the vote, thousands of Iranians have protested in the streets, and the regime has arrested hundreds of reformists, academics and Iranians with ties to the West. At least 30 people have been killed, according to government figures, and 100 are being tried on charges they sought to overthrow the Iranian government with foreign help.

The Iranian press report about a second letter from Mr. Obama came as diplomats from six world powers met in Frankfurt to urge Iran to agree to talks or face new sanctions. On Tuesday, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator said Iran was preparing a new offer for negotiations over its nuclear program.

  • 18 August 2009
  • Posted By Trita Parsi
  • Diplomacy, Nuclear file, Persian Gulf, Sanctions, US-Iran War

Throwing Ahmadinejad a Lifeline

The following is an op-ed published in Friday’s edition of the New York Times by NIAC President Trita Parsi and GWU professor Hossein Askari:

In an effort to squeeze Iran into submission over its nuclear policy, Congress and the White House are edging toward a gasoline embargo. This would do nothing to force Iran into submission. In fact, it would be a blessing for the hard-line government to once again be able to point to a foreign threat to justify domestic repression and consolidate its base at a time when opposition to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is increasing among conservatives.

An effective gasoline embargo can only be implemented through a naval blockade. This would require U.N. Security Council approval — a tortuous process with no certain outcome. An embargo without U.N. approval is an act of war according to international law, and Iran has declared that it would be met with force.

  • 30 July 2009
  • Posted By Trita Parsi
  • Diplomacy, Iran Election 2009

Make Them Wait: The case for a tactical pause with Iran

By Trita Parsi. Cross posted from Foreign Policy Magazine:

ahmadinejad_8No one said diplomacy with Iran would be easy. And now, before it even started, the Iranian election crisis has left Tehran politically paralyzed and Washington without a clear diplomatic path ahead. Iranian centrifuges keep spinning, leading some to think that September should be the deadline for Iran to accept the U.S. offer of talks. Although diplomacy must remain the policy, the momentous upheaval in Iran has completely changed the political landscape. Opening talks with Iran’s current government at this decisive moment could backfire severely. Indeed, now is the time for a tactical pause with Iran.

  • 20 July 2009
  • Posted By Trita Parsi
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Let me introduce you to one of the people imprisoned in Iran

cross posted from HuffingtonPost:

Bijan Khajehpour

Bijan Khajehpour

As Iran’s election crisis continues, hundreds if not thousands of prisoners remain in Iran’s notorious Evin prison. Few of them have faces known to the outside world. Some of them may have protested in the streets. Others were in Mir Hussein Moussavi’s inner circle. Still others had nothing to do with either the protests or the opposition. We know very little about all of these prisoners. We may not even know their names.

Let me introduce you to one of them. His name is Bijan Khajehpour.

Bijan is one of the many prisoners who neither participated in the protests nor had any involvement with the opposition. In fact, he wasn’t involved in party politics in any way. He is a self-made man, who built a solid reputation as one of the country’s leading economic and political analysts as the founder and CEO of Iran’s leading business consultancy, Atieh Bahar Consulting.

  • 28 June 2009
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

The End of the Beginning

cross-posted from Foreign Policy

By Trita Parsi and Reza Aslan

Iran’s popular uprising, which began after the June 12 election, may be heading for a premature ending. In many ways, the Ahmadinejad government has succeeded in transforming what was a mass movement into dispersed pockets of unrest. Whatever is now left of this mass movement is now leaderless, unorganized — and under the risk of being hijacked by groups outside Iran in pursuit of their own political agendas.

In 1999, students in Iran demonstrated against the closing of reformist newspapers. The unrest lasted a few days and was brutally suppressed. The demonstrators were almost exclusively students. No other segments of society joined their ranks in any meaningful numbers. With their limited appeal to other segments of society, the demonstrators failed to grow in numbers and attain their political objectives.

The demonstrations following the Iranian election on June 12 share few if any characteristics of the student uprising of 1999. What we have witnessed taking place in Iran is a mass movement attracting supporters from all walks of life, all demographics, all classes, and even all political backgrounds. Even supporters of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have expressed discomfort with the developments in Iran, arguing that they voted for Ahmadinejad because they thought he would be a better president, and not because he would be a better dictator.

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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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