The speech made by Tulip Siddiq, the Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, in the House of Commons on 25 October 2021.
I thank Mr Speaker’s office and you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for granting this urgent question. It is my eighth urgent question on Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe since she was detained five harrowing years ago in Iran on false charges.
You may remember, Madam Deputy Speaker, that only two years ago Nazanin’s husband, Richard Ratcliffe, was on hunger strike outside the Iranian embassy in solidarity with his wife, who was doing the same in Evin prison in Iran. Today, Richard is on hunger strike on the Foreign Secretary’s doorstep in Whitehall, pleading with her and the Prime Minister to do more to challenge Iran’s hostage-taking and to bring Nazanin home to be reunited with him and their daughter Gabriella. I think all Members across this House will realise that going on hunger strike is the absolute last resort for anyone. Richard has told me that he feels that there is no other option left because our Government’s response to his wife’s case has been pitiful.
Earlier this month, Nazanin was told that the Iranian judiciary had upheld a new one-year prison sentence and a further one-year travel ban that she had been given. This was just the latest escalation from Iran in this five-year ordeal, and yet again we do not feel that it has triggered any robust action from the UK. I know there was hope for a diplomatic solution just before summer, but these false dawns have actually made the situation worse for Nazanin and her husband.
I know that the Minister means well, that he is well versed on this case, and that he has been supportive of my constituent, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, and her husband Richard, who has come to the Gallery today to listen to this urgent question. I want to ask the Minister specifically about four asks from Nazanin’s family. Will he acknowledge that Nazanin is a hostage of the Iranian state? Will the Government bring forward Magnitsky sanctions against those involved in this hostage taking and challenge Iran on it in the courts? Will the Government finally fulfil the promise of resolving the £400 million debt that we as a country owe Iran? Will he work to secure a commitment to end hostage taking in negotiations around the Iran nuclear deal?
I urge the Minister, for Nazanin’s sake, for Richard’s sake, for Gabriella’s sake and for the sake of all British citizens imprisoned in Iran or at risk of being taken hostage, to commit to a robust response to Iran and a proper rescue plan for Nazanin.