Campaign

Press Release

March 23, 2022

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori Are Free!

Now ALL Iran's Imprisoned Dual-Nationals and Political Prisoners Must Be Freed

March 23, 2022

Contact: Larry Everest (202) 935-1652
FreeIransPoliticalPrisonersNow.org
Twitter @IranPrisonEmerg
Interviews available

“We celebrate the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori, two of the Iranian-British dual nationals unjustly held as political prisoners by the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI). Their return to England and their families is an important step forward, but we demand to know why the other three UK nationals have not been freed, and what the UK is doing to secure their release,” says Larry Everest of the International Emergency Campaign to Free Iran’s Political Prisoners Now (IEC).

“We celebrate the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori, two of the Iranian-British dual nationals unjustly held as political prisoners by the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI). Their return to England and their families is an important step forward, but we demand to know why the other three UK nationals have not been freed, and what the UK is doing to secure their release,” says Larry Everest of the International Emergency Campaign to Free Iran’s Political Prisoners Now (IEC).

“The imprisonment of dual nationals exposes the illegitimacy of the IRI and its repressive apparatus," Everest states. "The release of Nazanin and Anoosheh demonstrates the power of protest: the struggle by family members, people of conscience, and various organizations globally for their freedom intersected with the JPCOA negotiations and maneuverings of the governments involved to effect their release. But we are not going to forget the other dual nationals or hundreds of political prisoners who have not yet been released from Iran’s dungeons!”

This is the moment to amplify the global outcry for freedom for the at least 17 remaining dual-national prisoners and for all Iran’s political prisoners whose lives hang in the balance, including by signing and circulating the Campaign’s Emergency Appeal. This urgent reality is underscored by the recent death of 82-year-old Australian-Iranian Shokrollah Jebeli, "following months of torture" and “the denial of medical care,” according to Amnesty International.

In the press conference following her release, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe called for freedom for “other dual nationals, members of religious groups, or prisoners of conscience who are …there are so many other people we don’t know their names who have been suffering in prison in Iran.” With that, she continued, “the meaning of freedom is never going to be complete.”

Elika Ashoori, daughter of Anoosheh Ashoori and a signatory to the Emergency Appeal, tells the Guardian, “there are dual nationals still being detained. Until we get to the root cause of this problem we can’t prevent cases to happen in the future."

Dual nationals still imprisoned in Iran

Other Imprisoned UK-Iran Dual Nationals Must Be Freed NOW! Why Does UK Foreign Secretary Refuse to Speak of Mehran Raoof’s Case?

The urgency of the situation is highlighted by the fact that three imprisoned UK-Iranian nationals – labor activist Mehran Raoof, conservationist Tahbaz Morad, and attorney Shahram Shirkhani – have so far been conspicuously left out of the deal struck between the IRI and the British government despite the illegitimacy of their torturous imprisonment.

The British government initially claimed that Morad, who has cancer, would be freed as part of the deal. Yet he was rearrested and imprisoned, and is now on hunger strike in protest, even as there is talk he may be released again soon.

In her comments this week, Britain’s Foreign Minister Liz Truss “made no voluntary reference to Raoof, suggesting he was never part of the negotiations over the debt,” the Guardian reports, and that Amnesty urgent action campaigner Jo Atkins-Potts, “was very worried he was being left behind”, and that “he was a victim of arbitrary detention.”

“Liz Truss knows full well that Raoof has no close family inside Iran, that his UK lawyer died tragically in 2021, and his lawyer in Iran is imprisoned. Yet she pretends it is only a matter of him or a family member directly making a request to the British Foreign Office. A real Catch-22” said Dolly Veale of the IEC. (See also, “Who Will Speak for Mehran Raoof?IranWire, March 17)

This is an outrage, and underscores the truth of the Emergency Appeal’s analysis that while the governments of the world – whether the U.S. and UK or the Islamic Republic – proceed from their national interests, “the people of the U.S. and Iran, along with the people of the world, have OUR shared interests, as part of getting to a better world: to unite to defend the political prisoners of Iran.”

"It’s a shame that Nazanin and Anoosheh's freedom has hinged on the relationship between the UK and the IRI," Mariam Claren, who organized the #FreeNahid campaign for her imprisoned mother Nahid Taghavi, told the Emergency Campaign. "I deeply condemn the policies of both governments. One tortures, the other condones torture. In the end, both act out of their national interests. Nazanin and Anoosheh are now free, in large part, due to the tireless campaigning of their families and the good people who care."

The Lives of Iran’s Political Prisoners Hang in the Balance – We Must ACT NOW!

This Emergency Appeal from the International Campaign to Free Iran’s Political Prisoners Now, launched last year in the U.S., states a “brutal campaign of arrests, torture and executions is now taking place in Iran,” warns “The lives and dignity of hundreds of political prisoners are in imminent, mortal danger,” and calls on “All those who stand for justice and yearn for a better world must rally to the cause of freeing Iran’s political prisoners NOW.”

Significantly and uniquely, especially in light of the JPCOA talks, the Appeal demands Iran free its political prisoners and the U.S. refrain from threatening or intervening in Iran, including by lifting sanctions.

This Appeal has been endorsed by well over 3,000 people from 40 countries, including Germany, the UK and France. Signers include former Iranian political prisoners, relatives of current prisoners, the Burn the Cage/Free the Birds movement, and prominent voices of conscience including Shirin Ebadi, Cornel West, Noam Chomsky, Gloria Steinem, Ariel Dorfman, Jody Williams, Daniel Ellsberg, Judith Butler, and Raymond Lotta, It appeared as an ad on the back cover of the Summer 2021 issue of The New York Review of Books and has been translated into Farsi, Turkish, French, Spanish, and German.

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