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

10 minutes ago
The early bird might catch the worm - but they could not vote in Barnet this morning

Emergency proxy votes are being offered to Barnet residents who were unable to have their say at the ballot box this morning.

Sophie Walker.  This image is copyright Fiona Hanson 2016©.

London mayoral candidate, Sophie Walker, has made a formal complaint against Barnet Council after scores of voters were turned away from ballot boxes across the borough.

The application sends alerts and results directly to the clinician's smartphone.

The Royal Free NHS Trust has defended its decision to share the medical records of 1.6 million patients with Google whilst piloting a new healthcare application.

There has been chaos in Barnet polling stations. Photo: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Barnet Council are urging residents to go back if they were unable to vote this morning

Yesterday, 15:16
Police arrived at the Hornsey Tavern. Photo: Crouch End TV

A man who was stabbed in the stomach area rushed into a nearby pub in Hornsey where his ‘life was saved’ by a nurse who happened to be there.

Yesterday, 10:41
Police were called to reports of a stabbing

Police responded after a man was stabbed on High Street in Hornsey yesterday evening at 9pm

Tue, 22:32
Camden Council leader Sarah Hayward will remain at the helm after seeing off a challenge from Cllr Sally Gimson

There will be no change at the top of Camden Council after leader Sarah Hayward saw off a challenge from within and defeated Labour rival Sally Gimson.

Tue, 19:08
Tom Franklin with supporters, including Green Party mayoral candidate Sian Berry, outside court

Eight campaigners cleared of any wrongdoing for their part in an arms fair protest may be dragged back to court after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) lodged an appeal.

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now

Newsletter Sign Up

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

Kindle 7 inch tablet

Are you looking for a brand new gadget to help you stay connected on the go and make that long journey home a bit more entertaining? Look no further. MyOffers is giving you the chance to win 1 of 50 Kindle Fire 7” Display Tablets! That’s 50 times more chances to win, so hurry up and enter our competition today and you could be one of our lucky winners!

Yummy traditional afternoon teas for two

MyOffers is giving you the chance to win 1 of 50 Traditional Afternoon Teas for two at a location of your choice! That’s 50 times more chances to win, so hurry up and enter our competition today and you could be one of our lucky winners!

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe