If they can’t come to us, we’ll go to them! This May, the Cardiff Amnesty group, Cardiff University Amnesty group and other Cardiffians will be joining people across the UK to walk, run, scoot, skate and cycle the 2,730 miles from London to Tehran in support of Amnesty International’s work to free British citizens unjustly imprisoned in Iran.
As lockdown restrictions ease we are all relishing our new freedom. But this is not true of everyone. The Iranian authorities continue to arbitrarily detain dual-national citizens in horrendous conditions. Amnesty International are currently working to support Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Anoosheh Ashoori and Mehran Raoof but it is unknown how many other British-Iranians may be currently held in Iran.
The UK Foreign Office must ensure their release and that the Iranian authorities stop using innocent dual nationals as hostages for political negotiations.
We will be fundraising for the continued important work of Amnesty International while putting our voices alongside those of Nazanin and Anoosheh's families to amplify their campaigns to bring their loved ones home.
As we begin this challenge, there has been the devastating news that Nazanin has been sentenced with an additional year in prison followed by a year long travel ban preventing her from leaving Iran and returning to her husband and young daughter in the UK. In recent days Anoosheh's family have shared audio from a call with him where he is clearly suffering with covid-19 symptoms but being denied medical intervention in Evin prison. His disillusionment with the empty words of the UK government is clear.
They must do more and justice must prevail.
Nazanin was first detained in spring 2016 where she was placed in solitary confinement for over 8 months and denied access to her lawyer pending her grossly unfair trial that September. She was sentenced to 5 years in prison on false national security charges based on evidence that to this day remains a secret.
Nazanin’s sentence ended on Sunday 7th March but she was then told she was unable to leave Iran as she faced a second court hearing for a further charge Sunday 14th March. It was announced in late April that she will spend an additional year in prison followed by a year long travel ban preventing her form leaving Iran.
Her husband Richard and daughter Gabriella remain in the UK and campaign tirelessly for her release.
Anoosheh has been detained since 2017 and in 2018 he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for trumped up charges of spying on the Iranian government. He was denied the right of a lawyer of his choosing and the trial relied on torture-tainted “confessions” to convict him of “cooperating with a hostile state against the Islamic Republic.”
During his time in Tehran’s Evin prison he was able to get messages to the world of the horrendous conditions via messages recorded by his wife in London. Anoosheh’s words were instrumental in shedding a light on the enormous risk of Covid-19 in Evin prison.
There continues to be serious concerns for Anoosheh’s mental and physical health during his imprisonment in Tehran and he is frequently denied access to calls with his loved ones in the UK. His daughter, Elika, states it clearly when she says her father is a “hostage” who is “being used as something that’s bigger than him” by Iranian authorities.
· Mehran Raoof
Mehran was arrested in October of last year and was subjected to incommunicado detention for one month before being allowed a single call to a distant relative in Iran. He has been denied contact with his immediate family in the UK, denied his right to access legal counsel and is still being held in solitary confinement. Mehran is a labour rights activist and was arrested during a crackdown by Iranian authorities in October 2020. Other activists arrested at the time have recently been sentenced to up to 16 years in prison for shining a light on the unfair working conditions and poor living standards in Iran.
Mehran is still awaiting trial.
All funds raised will be passed to the charity irrespective of whether my target is reached, not reached or exceeded.