Recent events in Iran have made me think much about my friends there. The highly respected Grand Ayatollah Hoseyn Ali Montazeri’s death on 19th December led to tens of thousands of people taking part in the procession in Qom that followed his funeral. On 27th December opposition protests led to the deaths of at least 8 people, including Sayed Ali Mousavi, the nephew of the opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, and today Mousavi gave his first statement following this personal tragedy. He sought to outline a five-step resolution to the political instability that has dominated the political scene since the disputed elections in June 2009, in which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed victory. Mousavi calls for the release of political prisoners, the rights of people to demonstrate, a transparent law for trustworthy elections, and the recognition of press freedoms. The government, though, shows little sign of responding positively or peacefully.
Opposition supporters continue to protest in the face of apparently increasingly violent repression by government forces. My hope is that this violence can indeed be contained, and that peaceful negotiations may follow. Iran is a country of immense cultural heritage and importance, and it would be good to see its people living peaceful and fulfilled lives once more.
For those wishing to keep up-to-date with current news, the following links may be of interest: