Detained British-Iranian Goes on Hunger Strike in Protest at Appalling Prison Conditions and Repeated Pressure to Become a Regime Spy
The Women’s Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran’s Elham Zanjani had a piece published on International Policy Digest entitled, ‘The Two Faces of Iran’. The piece, published on Sunday, January 20th, charts the story of British-Iranian, Nazanin Zaghai-Ratcliffe, who is in regime custody in Iran.
Zaghari was detained in March 2016, at an airport as she attempted to fly back to London. Regime agents took her to Kernan and confiscated her two-year-old daughter’s British passport. After detaining her for months without trial, Zaghari was eventually sentenced to five years behind bars on falsified, jumped-up charges of acting against Iranian national security interests.
Zaghari re-entered the news cycle this week after beginning a hunger strike on Monday, January 14th. The British-Iranian allegedly began refusing food in response to poor prison conditions, lack of access to medical treatment, and persistent requests from regime agents to spy on the United Kingdom for the clerical regime.
The information emerged after her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, spoke about the conditions she is currently living in at Evin Prison. In a press conference, he said, “just after Christmas on December 29, Nazanin was visited in prison by two Revolutionary Guard interrogators. She was pressured to agree to things.” He added, “they tried to pressure her to become a spy for Iran against the UK. Specifically, to spy on [the] Department for International Development (DFID) and an organization called Small Media, which the Revolutionary Guard keep trying to link her to, but she has no connection to [it].”
Her husband asserts that Zaghari is being held as collateral to negotiate the payment of £650 million from the UK government to the Iranian regime. The regime alleges that the debt is owed from an unfulfilled arms deal negotiated between the two governments more than 40-years-ago.
A Violation of Human Rights
Elham Zanjani writes, “denying medical treatment to a prisoner is a violation of human rights, and ordering her to serve and spy for the Iranian Regime’s Intelligence and Revolutionary Guards under the cover of a journalist is an inhumane abuse of power.”
— NCRIWomen'sCommittee (@womenncri) February 15, 2017
However, this type of behavior has become commonplace from the Iranian regime. The regime has systematically violated human rights, including the systematic execution of its political opponents (in one summer of 1988 the regime executed more than 30,000 members of the Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran).
Since the 1980s, the regime has executed an estimated 120,000 political opponents and attempted to recruit thousands into becoming spies for its nefarious activities at home and abroad. Zanjani writes, “none bowed down but instead, paid the price for freedom.”
Zanjani concludes, “the lesson to be learned from history and Zaghari’s story is that such regimes only understand the decisive language of force. Europe has recently proudly taken some decisive steps by listing two of the Iranian regime’s officials on the blacklist, how about more?”