Why did This Writer have to find this news item on Euronews (whatever that is) rather than a UK news website like the BBC? Because the Tory government is embarrassed at its own lack of action?
(In fairness, I did see a line about it on the BBC News tickertape yesterday evening, November 18. Why has there been no full story, though?)
We all know the background, at least – don’t we?
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was imprisoned in Iran in 2016, on false charges. When, as Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson tried to intervene, he made matters worse by mistakenly saying she had done the act of which she had been accused.
Since then, Johnson has allowed Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe to be used as a bargaining chip in negotiations between the UK and Iran over more than £400 million owed to the Middle East country in an arms deal that fell through after the revolution there in the 1970s.
Tory former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt made an impassioned speech, demanding the return of that cash, earlier this week. But he probably knew that he was just blowing hot air into the Parliamentary atmosphere.
A more substantial contribution to the campaign for Nazanin was Jeremy Corbyn’s speech on the need for her to be freed, along with other prisoners in a similar situation in Iran:
I spoke on the need for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe to be freed
Many MPs attended & praised her husband Richard for the way he has campaigned, despite his suffering
We must also call for the release of Anousheh Ashouri, Mehran Raoof & Morad Tahbaz, who are in a similar situation pic.twitter.com/7uSZAe3kX1
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) November 17, 2021
One would have expected Nazanin winning a major human rights award would have been an even stronger contribution to her cause. Clearly the UK news media – like the Tory government – aren’t interested in human rights.
The Magnitsky Awards recognise “brave journalists, politicians and activists in the field of human rights and anticorruption”. They are named after Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who was killed in Russian police custody in 2009 after exposing government corruption.
She won the award for Courage Under Fire.
It was accepted on her behalf by her daughter Gabriella, who read out a statement from her mother (which I reproduce in two parts because these are the video clips available to me):
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s 7-year-old daughter Gabriella climbed atop a chair to reach the microphone and receive an award on behalf of her mother #magnitskyawards. Husband Richard ended his hunger strike on Saturday in his latest attempt to get U.K. Govt to act pic.twitter.com/qhMtOQvsKj
— Amie Ferris-Rotman (@Amie_FR) November 18, 2021
One of the most moving moments I have seen in a while: little Gabriella Zaghari-Radcliffe receives an award for courage on behalf of her mother Nazanin, still detained in Iran. @Billbrowder #magnitskyawards pic.twitter.com/m72YwrWZ2J
— Nina de Roy dos Santos (@NdosSantosCNN) November 18, 2021
Sadly the lack of interest in Nazanin’s case suggests that she is still facing an indefinite wait.
Her husband Richard recently ended a 21-day hunger strike outside the Foreign Office in London. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss – and, it is understood, Johnson himself – walked past him without even acknowledging his existence.
And now we see only minimal interest from the national press, who seem far more interested in attempting to help Johnson distance himself from the corruption in which he and his government are mired.
It isn’t good enough. Current affairs are not a soap opera. Real lives are in the balance.
Real news reporters don’t brush those facts under the carpet.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
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