World News


The Two Faces of Iran

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian who is currently being detained by the Iranian regime, is on hunger strike after interrogators asked her to become a spy. Zaghari was arrested along with her young daughter in March 2016 at the airport as they were boarding a flight back home to London after visiting family in Iran. She was taken to Kerman and agents confiscated the British passport of her 2-year-old daughter. After months of imprisonment without trial, she was sentenced to five years in jail on the charge of acting against national security.

On Monday, Jan. 14, 2019, Zaghari began a three-day hunger strike in protest against unfathomable prison conditions and lack of access to medical treatment, as well as pressure from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard interrogators to spy on the United Kingdom for the Iranian regime.

At a press conference on Monday, Zaghari’s husband, Richard Ratcliffe, elaborated on the pressure his wife is under in Evin Prison. “There is another reason that Nazanin went on hunger strike. Just after Christmas on December 29, Nazanin was visited in prison by two Revolutionary Guard interrogators. She was pressured to agree to [other] things,” he said. “…They tried to pressure her to become a spy for Iran against the UK. Specifically, to spy on 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].”

The doctor at the prison ordered that Zaghari be treated urgently in a medical center, but prison officials prevented her from doing so for reasons that are still unknown.

According to Ratcliffe, Zaghari is being held as “collateral” to secure the repayment on a £650 million debt the UK government has owed to Iran for an unfulfilled arms deal dating back over 40 years.

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.

This scenario is not unfamiliar in Iran, as many people have experienced the dark days of imprisonment under the Iranian regime. It has been 40 years since hundreds of thousands of political prisoners have been sent to the gallows for not cooperating with the demands of the Iranian regime.

Since the 1980s, over 120,000 members of the PMOI/MEK, the sole and most organized opposition movement, were executed. Many were similarly told to cooperate with the regime, spy for them and denounce their ideals of freedom and in exchange, were promised to be freed. None bowed down but instead, paid the price for freedom.

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?