Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ebadi says Arab-style revolt certain soon in Iran

Iranian Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi said on Wednesday an Arab-style popular revolt would come soon to her country, driven by poverty and the fierce oppression of critics by its Islamic rulers.

But Ebadi, a defence lawyer for Iranian dissidents who has lived outside Iran since 2009 but has close family still there, said human rights campaigners wanted the transition to happen peacefully and avoid a Libyan-style bloodbath.

"With the slightest breeze, there could be a conflagration," she told a news conference on the fringes of a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council, at which Western countries want an investigation into Iran to be set up.

"As to what will spark that fire and when, it is difficult to predict. But I can say with certainty that it won't be long in coming," she said.

Reports from Iran -- OPEC's second biggest oil producer after Saudi Arabia -- say the authorities have acted firmly to head off any repetition of the popular protests that have swept presidents from power in Tunisia and Egypt and pushed Libya close to outright civil war. (read more)