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Keir Starmer meets Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe ahead of International Women’s Day

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has met with Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe ahead of International Women’s Day.

Sir Keir and Anneliese Dodds, the party’s shadow women and equalities secretary, heard from Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her husband Richard as part of a roundtable gathering with 10 Iranian and Kurdish women human rights campaigners.

The roundtable event was convened jointly with Amnesty International UK

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was detained by Tehran in 2016 and only released last year.

The dual British-Iranian national was captured on April 3 by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) at Imam Khomeini Airport after a holiday visit with her daughter Gabriella to see her parents.

International Women’s Day
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer meets with Iranian and Kurdish human rights activists, members of Amnesty International, and Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her husband Richard Ratcliffe in his office in Westminster (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Following six years of imprisonment, she landed back in Britain in March 2022 after the UK finally agreed to settle a £400 million debt dating back to the 1970s, allowing Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe to be reunited with her family.

Monday’s meeting, held in the Opposition leader’s Westminster office, comes ahead of International Women’s Day on Wednesday.

It was understood to be the second time Sir Keir and Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe have met in person since her return to the UK.

The Woman, Life, Freedom roundtable focused on the role of women in the protests across Iran that followed the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in custody last year.

She died in September after being detained by Iranian morality police for not wearing a hijab in accordance with government standards.

International Women’s Day
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer listens to Iranian and Kurdish human rights campaigners (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe cut her hair as a gesture of solidarity with the women protesting in Iran following Ms Amini’s passing.

Sir Keir and Ms Dodds heard directly from Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe and other human rights defenders about the harassment and abuse women and girls have faced from the Iranian authorities, Labour said.

Among them included Elika Ashoori, a British-Iranian actress and activist, and daughter of Anoosheh Ashoori – a British hostage who was held in Evin prison for five years.

Labour has called for Iran’s revolutionary guard, a special branch of Tehran’s armed forces, to be formally branded a terror group.

Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy and shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said in January that the IRGC was “behaving like a terrorist organisation and must now be proscribed as such”.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, asked on Monday at a Conservative Home defence conference about whether the IRGC would be proscribed, said the UK Government did not publicly discuss such plans.