The story of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been widely covered by the media over the past few years.
The whole country has been shocked and saddened by her plight, with the Government doing everything they can to try and bring Nazanin from solitary confinement in Iran to the safety of her family back in the United Kingdom.
This case, as well as other issues, has severely impacted the relationship between the UK and Iran over the past few years.
My stance on our current situation with the Persian country is this: any deal with Iran must include the release of Zaghari-Ratcliffe to reinforce the case that we are firmly against her imprisonment.
The Story of Nazanin
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is a British-Iranian dual national who went to Iran in March 2016 on holiday with her young daughter Gabriella. As they were at the airport on the way back from the Asian region, Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and taken away from her daughter.
Although former Foreign Secretaries Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt both have tried their hardest to secure the release of Nazanin, it has been to no avail. The case has been high-profile and widely covered by the media, most recently in 2019 when Richard Ratcliffe went on a joint hunger strike with Nazanin.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe who was sentenced in September 2016 to five years in prison, now looks like she will serve all of that time with both sides unable to break the deadlock. In 2019, the UK Government don’t seem any closer to getting her back to her family in Britain. Whilst the grounds of her imprisonment remain partially unclear, it has been reported that she was detained on spying charges, with the intent of causing damage to the Iranian regime.
Since her arrest over three years ago, she has been kept in solitary confinement and was recently admitted to a psychiatric hospital. The details of whether this admission was actually needed remains to be seen, but the UK’s relations with Iran are being stretched to breaking point the longer Nazanin is kept in Iran.
Recent Iran Tensions
The seizing of tankers from the UK and Iran in international waters has damaged relations further between the two countries. However, the UK isn’t the only area of the world where tensions are at an all-time high with the Asian nation. The USA under Donald Trump’s administration has also clashed with Iran recently.
New Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has stated that there will be no negotiations over a possible swap of tankers between the two nations, which will escalate tensions further. If the two sides fail to make an agreement over this issue, as well as the Zaghari-Ractliffe case, there will be fears that this tension could turn in to something a lot more severe.
My plea to the people of the UK and the Iranian government
We must show that unfair treatment of our citizen is not acceptable. It doesn’t matter if she’s a dual national with Iran or not, she’s still our citizen as well. If we can find peace with Iran, I would be all for it. However, any deal that the UK strikes with those in Tehran must include the release of Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
Despite Boris Johnson’s slip up, the evidence that Iran has against Zaghari-Ratcliffe has to be shown to the British Government so negotiations and discussions can take place.
The baton has now been handed over to Dominic Raab and the ministers working under him in the Foreign Office to do whatever they can to negotiate with Iran. Whatever your political beliefs are, we now have to back our new Foreign Secretary.
Is it time for the public to rise and protest? Even though the hunger strike by Richard Ratcliffe was well-publicised in the media, he was alone in doing this outside of the Iranian Embassy in London. We need to put our energy in and fight this ill-justified decision. Protest about Trump, protest about Johnson all you like but let’s come together as one in this country for the sake of Nazanin, justice and liberty.
Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, all parties in the UK: let’s show our willingness to work with Iran in leading by example. Showing solidarity as a country is what’s needed to do that.
Iran, we are not your enemies, show us that you have the same attitude that we do on this.
If you treat our citizens in a respectful manner, even if they’re believed to have committed a crime, we’ll treat your people with respect too. This is something we have always done. You give what you get.
Nazanin is one of ours, we need to do whatever we can to protect her. She’s also one of yours. Iran, it’s time to work together.
Together, we’re stronger.