Search

‘I nearly died on hunger strike for justice’: Iranian refugee protests for release of seven hostages

15:00 26 June 2014

Zahra Dowlaty and Touran Ranjbar are fighting to raise awareness of alleged massacres and hostage-taking of Iranian dissidents under the Iranian regime. Picture: Polly Hancock

Zahra Dowlaty and Touran Ranjbar are fighting to raise awareness of alleged massacres and hostage-taking of Iranian dissidents under the Iranian regime. Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

Going without food for 101 days, the woman on the right of this picture came close to death by campaigning for the release of seven Iranian hostages in Iraq.

Touran Ranjbar, 51, has been left with rotting teeth and permanent muscle damage after surviving on sugar cubes and water for more than three months.

Miss Ranjbar, of Tufnell Park, began her protest after the alleged killing of 52 political prisoners at Iraq’s Camp Ashraf, which houses Iranian dissidents.

Iraqi forces are accused of responsibility for the killings and of taking seven Iranians hostage in the attacks on September 1.

“It was so painful,” said Miss Ranjbar, who spoke of her ordeal ahead of joining a major protest against the Iranian regime in Paris tomorrow.

“But I just pictured the 3,400 people in Camp Liberty [another camp for Iranian dissidents] also on hunger strike, who couldn’t even have sugar cubes or water to drink. Some of them nearly died.

“I was more worried about them than I was about myself.”

Miss Ranjbar, who fled Iran 20 years ago, is unable to work because of the damage to her health caused by the hunger strike.

Her condition deteriorated so much during the protest outside the US embassy, from September to December, that she was taken to hospital several times.

She said: “We were sleeping [outside the US embassy] at night for about a month and a half, but we didn’t feel well and the weather was cold, so after that every night we went home.

“I was crying, because I felt that the media doesn’t even care about us in this part of Europe and the US embassy doesn’t do anything.”

Despite the damage to her body, she said she would do it again at a moment’s notice if another “massacre” took place.

Miss Ranjbar and other members of the Iranian Women’s Association will join tens of thousands of protesters at the Paris rally. They continue to lobby human rights groups to back their cause.

Miss Ranjbar and fellow campaigner Zahra Dowlaty, 53, of Euston, have lost dozens of loved ones who were executed after daring to speak out against the Iranian government.

Ms Dowlaty’s husband was killed alongside Miss Ranjbar’s brother in 1988 and the two women were placed under house arrest.

They bought black-market passports and fled to the UK soon afterwards. Ms Dowlaty, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, said: “It doesn’t go from my head, even now. Whenever I see a crane, I automatically think someone is hanging there.”

The association believes the United States has a duty to secure Camp Liberty, also in Iraq, to prevent further deaths of Iranian dissidents under a pledge made during the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hampstead Highgate Express visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hampstead Highgate Express staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hampstead Highgate Express account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

Yesterday, 22:59
Two diners were injured in the accident involving an unmarked police car   pictures: Emily Banks

Diners at Pizza East restaurant in Highgate Road were injured when an unmarked police car on an emergency call was in collision with another car .

Mon, 18:35
Geography teacher Kato Harris wept as a jury cleared him of all charges

A Geography teacher has told of the “massive stress” of being accused of repeatedly raping a 14-year-old pupil in the classroom of his Camden school.

Mon, 17:45
Nearly 4,000 pupils were excluded for reasons including racist abuse and sexual misconduct across Camden, Haringey and Barnet. Picture: PA

Racist abuse, sexual misconduct and drug and alcohol offences – these are some of the reasons why nearly 4,000 Camden, Haringey and Barnet pupils were excluded from schools last year.

Mon, 17:37
Kato Harris, has been cleared of  three counts of rape

A geography teacher wept today after a jury took just 26 minutes to clear him of repeatedly raping a pupil in a classroom at a Camden school.

Mon, 15:45
Islington Square Show Apartment

Interior designers Amos and Amos have created a hyper local show home featuring only furniture and accessories they sourced from shops on Upper Street

Mon, 15:12
Restoration work begins in the theatre at Alexandra Palace. Photo: Polly Hancock

The Park and Palace Trust launch a one million pound fundraising campaign to support the theatre’s restoration.

Mon, 13:19
Omar Bartocci, 13,  has been found safe and well after going missing last Wednesday

A 13-year-old junior rugby player has been found “safe and well.” after going missing for five days.

Mon, 09:52
Golders Green station was evacuated after security alert  Pic credit: @im725555

Golders Green station was evacuated by police at around 7am this morning after a vehicle abandoned in the car park caused a security alert.

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Competitions

Which book character do you share cleaning habits with?

Whether you have more in common with put-upon Cinderella, emotionally turbulent Jane Eyre, or easily distracted Mole, you’re sure to appreciate that one lucky winner will receive four sessions of free cleaning. Enter our quiz for your chance to win. All runners up will get £10 off their first clean when making a repeat booking.

£15k prize bundle

Imagine having the opportunity to win an incredible £15,000 bundle of some of the most amazing prizes available. Well, for one lucky contest entrant that dream could soon become a reality because we at MyOffers are offering an incredible free prize bundle that will make even the most hardened person wild with excitement.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now