Islington woman on hunger strike willing to die to save lives of others
- Credit: Archant
On a row of single beds outside the US embassy in Grosvenor Square, lies a woman who is willing to die for her cause.
Touran Ranjbar, 51, has not eaten for 81 days, and food will not pass her lips until something is done to help her fellow Iranians, seven of whom she and many others believe are being held hostage by the current regime in the country.
It’s too late to save the 52 dissidents “massacred” on September 1 in Camp Ashraf, near Baghdad, which is under the control of Iraqi forces – the forces campaigners such as Touran believe are responsible for the atrocity.
One of those killed in the massacre was her childhood friend.
She left Iran for the UK 20 years ago when the current regime came to power, shortly after her brother was executed.
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“I live here and I have a good life, but all the time my heart and my head are in my country,” said Touran, who lives in Tufnell Park Road, Holloway.
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“At the moment in Camp Liberty there are 3,000 people who are suffering worse conditions than those who are in prison.
“We will not eat until the hostages that are being held are released. If I die, I don’t care.
“I don’t bother myself, because all [US president] Obama has to do is make a phone call.”
Touran and seven others on hunger strike outside the embassy believe that the US has a duty to those exiled from their country and living in Iraq, because of a promise made when American forces invaded Iraq in 2003.
They have joined hundreds more in Camp Liberty, who are refusing food, but after more than 11 weeks their health is starting to deteriorate.
Touran, who works as a social worker, has lost 33kg and doctors are very concerned for her wellbeing.
“My heart is in pain all the time and my muscles ache. The doctor is very worried about me.
“It’s very difficult for me to open my eyes and I can’t get out of bed.
“I am in pain but if I die, at least I may have helped to save others.”
The campaigners and human rights activists outside the embassy have three demands.
The first is that the seven hostages are released, the second is that those in the camps receive protection and security from the UN, and the third is that an independent commission be set up to investigate what happened at Camp Ashraf on September 1.
A number of MPs have shown support for the hunger strikers and have visited them at the embassy.
Jeremy Corbyn, MP for Islington North, said: “Although I am not involved in this group I am aware one of the strikers lives locally.
“I think the safety of people in Camp Asharif is really seriously under threat.
“The Iraqi government should be offering protection to them from raids over the border – these attacks are quite disgraceful.”