We must nurture hope in Iran

I doubt anyone who came across Amnesty International's latest report on Iran will have been truly surprised. "Abuse and show trials" is the headline and that, in one sense, sums up what has been a miserable last six months in the country – in human rights terms, as bad a period as the country has endured in the last 20 years.

But I'm not entirely without hope that things could yet get better. The very ferocity of the crackdown on pro-democracy protesters has stiffened the resolve of what were already vibrant movements for change and human rights reform in the country. Lawyers, trades unionists, women's activists and an increasingly vocal and organised urban youth and student movement are all becoming more active.

Yes, for the moment this is a dangerous zero-sum game. For every action taken by, for example, the indefatigable women's movement the Campaign For Equality, there are arrests and new intakes into Tehran's notorious Evin prison. People are paying with their liberty, with torture and even their lives for the stances they're adopting.

Yet the genie is now out of the bottle and there a... >>>

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