Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has warned the world ‘cannot turn a blind eye to Iran’ as she urged Liz Truss’s Government to act over Tehran’s human rights abuses that prompted the recent hijab protests.
The British Iranian national, who was imprisoned in Iran for six years before her release earlier this year, said the recent events have brought back memories of her own imprisonment at the hands of the Iranian regime.
It comes as the groundswell of opposition to the regime continues in Iran, sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in custody last month after being detained by Iranian morality police last month for not wearing a hijab in accordance with government standards.
An Iranian coroner also claimed Amini had died from illness, not police violence, and insisted two girls killed during anti-hijab protests ‘fell off roofs’ despite claims security forces beat the teenagers to death.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has warned the world ‘cannot turn a blind eye to Iran’ as Ishe urged Liz Truss’s Government to act over Tehran’s human rights abuses that prompted recent hijab protests
Speaking to Sky News’ Beth Rigby on Friday, Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe said she wants to see more action from the UK government over the current human rights abuses in Iran.
‘I want them to observe what is happening not to turn a blind eye,’ she said.
‘I want them to protect us.
‘We cannot be indifferent about what is happening in Iran and if we talk about protecting rights of our citizens, we have to do something about it and I think we have to hold Iran accountable.
‘The world has to make it very, very expensive for Iran to violate human rights so easily. It should be costly,’ she said, adding that this should include sanctions.
Regarding Liz Truss, who settled debts resulting in Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release earlier this year, she said: ‘She knows what is happening in Iran, she has just secured the release of me and Anoosheh so she is very much aware of what is happening in the country.
‘Condemning what is happening in the country of Iran and issuing a statement is not enough but it’s a good gesture.’
It comes as the groundswell of opposition to the regime continues in Iran, sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in custody last month after being detained by Iranian morality police last month for not wearing a hijab in accordance with government standards
Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe went on to speak about cutting her hair as a gesture of solidarity with the women protesting in Iran.
She described it as a ‘symbol of women getting more power about their body’ that resonates throughout the world.
‘It is a way of symbolising how women would want to have the right to cover their hair or not … because for women of course it’s not just about the Middle East, it’s about an international issue that women are constantly managed,’ she said.
Speaking about the women protesting in Iran, she said: ‘There is a new wave of school girls rising up, standing up for their rights to take off their scarf to protest and this is a new generational shift.
‘I think it has reached the point that they feel they don’t have a choice,’ she said, adding that it is not about the hijab anymore but ‘not being happy about the way they live.’
Asked what will happen in Iran now, she said: ‘What I do believe is… Iran will never be the same.
‘Whatever happens in the future, it will never go back to where it was before September.’
An Iranian coroner claimed Amini did not die as a result of violent blows but from multiple organ failure caused by lack of oxygen to the brain.
Speaking about the women protesting in Iran, Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe said: ‘There is a new wave of school girls rising up, standing up for their rights to take off their scarf to protest and this is a new generational shift
The country’s authorities also deny reports that security forces killed two girls during protests over Amini’s death, saying they both died of suicide by falling from roofs.
Social media reports and the human rights group Amnesty International refute the Iranian authority’s claim and say Sarina Esmaeilzadeh, 16, and Nika Shakarami, 17, were both killed when participating in the protests.
Amini went into a coma after being arrested in Tehran and died while she was in police custody in hospital.
Her father has said she had bruises on her legs, and holds police responsible for her death.
At Amini’s funeral in Saqez, her hometown in Kurdistan, security forces fired tear gas at protesters who had gathered. The demonstrators chanted ‘death to the dictator’ as they removed their headscarves.
Women and young school girls have been pictured waving and burning headscarves in protest over the regime.
So far, around 150 people have been killed, hundreds have been injured and thousands arrested in a crackdown on nationwide protests marking the biggest challenge against Iran’s clerical leadership in years.