Yesterday, March 16 marked one year since Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe release from Iran. On the one year anniversary of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe release, a British-Iranian woman who was detained in Iran in 2016, has called for sanctions against 10 Iranian officials on the first anniversary of her release from prison.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe release
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her legal advisers marked the first anniversary of her release from an Iranian jail by urging Britain to sanction 10 Iranian officials they say are responsible for a resurgence in state hostage-taking of foreign nationals.
Why was Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe held in Iran?
Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in Iran in 2016 while on a visit to see her parents in Tehran. She was separated from her daughter Gabriella, who was a toddler at the time, and subjected to vigorous interrogation by authorities. The UK-Iranian was later sentenced to five years in prison for allegedly plotting to overthrow the regime, a charge she has always denied.
What has Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe done since her release?
Since her release from prison in March 2022, Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been working tirelessly to campaign for the release of other dual national and political prisoners detained in Iran. She and her husband Richard have been trying to balance a normal life with their daughter Gabriella, while also advocating for policy changes in the UK to prevent other families from going through similar ordeals. In September, Zaghari-Ratcliffe filmed herself cutting her hair in solidarity with protesters in Iran after the death of Mahsa Amini.
British-Iranians Morad Tahbaz and Mehran Raoof are known to still be held in Iranian jails, while another dual citizen Ali Reza Akbari was executed earlier this year. At least three dual nationals have recently had a death sentence confirmed, and it is estimated that 40 dual nationals have been arrested since a wave of street protests in Iran started last September.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s legal advisers at Redress have submitted the names of 10 Iranian officials they believe should be subject to human rights sanctions over state hostage-taking, according to The Guardian. The couple is also calling on the UK government to appoint a special envoy for hostages to handle such crises in the future.
However, Foreign Office minister David Rutley has stated that the UK does not believe a state can be a hostage-taker and instead uses the term “arbitrary detention for diplomatic leverage”. This statement has disappointed Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her family, who feel that more needs to be done to hold those responsible accountable.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband, Richard Ratcliffe, accused the UK government of being less interested in sanctions for cases such as theirs since his wife’s release. He is worried that the UK’s soft approach will only encourage more state hostage-taking by Iran.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case has garnered international attention, with many countries and organizations calling for her release. While her release was a positive development, the fact that other dual nationals remain detained or have been executed shows that there is still much work to be done to improve the human rights situation in Iran.
The Ratcliffe family continues to campaign for the release of Morad Tahbaz and Mehran Raoof and for greater accountability for those responsible for state hostage-taking. They hope that by raising awareness and advocating for policy changes, they can prevent other families from experiencing the same trauma they have gone through.
Image Credit: BBC