Iran’s arrested activists find champion in lilac tweed

Not many revolutionaries dress in a lilac tweed suit but then not many have the charisma of Shirin Ebadi, who won a Nobel prize for her human rights work in Iran and is now on a mission to garner support for prisoners held in her country.

Ebadi, 62, made a passionate plea for the West to show support for the opposition in Iran as the regime continued its crackdown on the reform movement, which continued to mount street protests last week.

“The European Union should withdraw ambassadors,” said Ebadi, a lawyer, stabbing the air with her index finger, furious about the arrests that followed the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The election of Ahmadinejad, who is due to be sworn in this week, continues to be strongly contested. Mir Hossein Mousavi, his main opponent, claims the election was stolen. Yesterday, opposition activists arrested in the weeks after the elections appeared in court in Tehran for the first time, charged with conspiring against the regime.

Although most had been arrested at home, and were intellectuals or politicians whose offence can only have been criticism of the regime or support for Mousavi, they were charged with crimes such as attacking military sites and government buildings.

About 100 prisoners sat grimly in court, some dressed in grey prison uniforms, many of them prominent reformers allied to the opposition, including Mohammad Ali Abtahi, a former government spokes… >>>

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