Trafalgar Square screening of The Salesman film is 'right response' to US travel ban
Richard Ratcliffe to raise awareness of his wife’s detention in Iran
Photo-call with activists holding placards - ‘Stand Together Against Hate’, ‘Free Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’ and ‘Free Kamal Foroughi’ - at 2.30pm
Amnesty International has renewed its criticism of the US travel ban ahead of a special screening of an Oscar-nominated Iranian film in Trafalgar Square this weekend.
Asghar Farhadi, whose film “The Salesman” has been nominated for a “best foreign-language film” award at the 89th Academy Awards in Hollywood on Sunday (26 February), has said he would not travel to Los Angeles for the awards ceremony out of solidarity with those affected by the US Government’s recently-imposed travel ban.
Mr Farhadi himself faced being unable to attend the Oscars after President Donald Trump signed an executive order imposing a seven-country travel ban on 27 January. However, the director said he would not travel even if he was given special exemption from the ban, in solidarity with millions of Iranians and others unable to enter the USA.
In response, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has arranged for a free outdoor screening of The Salesman in Trafalgar Square during the afternoon of Sunday 26 February, an event billed as a means to “celebrate London’s diversity” and show that “London is open to creative talent as well as people from all countries and all communities”.
Amnesty International UK Priority Campaigns Manager Laura Trevelyan said:
“This screening is an important gesture of defiance and exactly the right response to President Trump’s discriminatory and unlawful travel ban.
“It seems all too likely that the Trump administration is going to put this incredibly divisive ban back in place and we need to see the US Senate passing legislation to make it unlawful once and for all.”
Activists to highlight plight of British nationals jailed in Iran
Sunday’s screening will be attended by Richard Ratcliffe, whose wife Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a 38-year-old British charity worker, was sentenced to five years in prison in September after being convicted of “membership of an illegal group” in an unfair trial by a Revolutionary Court. She has recently been suffering from severe neck, arm and back pain, but - against medical advice - has been denied admission to a hospital for tests and treatment.
Members of the “Hampstead Mums” group - who have been highlighting the plight of Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, herself a mother from Hampstead - will also be attending the Trafalgar Square event, as will other Amnesty activists who have taken up her case and that of Kamal Foroughi, a 77-year-old British oil and gas company consultant who is serving his sixth year of a seven-year jail sentence after being convicted of espionage. He was originally detained in May 2011. Under Iranian law (Article 58 of the Islamic Penal Code) he has long been eligible for conditional release after serving more than a third of his sentence.
The Zaghari-Ratcliffe/Foroughi activists will have a photo-call with placards in Trafalgar Square at 2.30pm. The placards will say ‘Stand Together Against Hate’, ‘Free Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’ and ‘Free Kamal Foroughi’.
Richard Ratcliffe said:
“The spirit of this screening is to stand up for safe travel, reaffirming that London welcomes Iranians who travel to the UK and in some cases set up home here.
“Both my wife and Kamal Foroughi are proud Londoners.
“I share Amnesty’s view - arbitrary punishment is wrong in all its forms. One day we hope people will be able to travel safely between Iran and the West without risk of being used in political games and without all these walls between us.
“This action was inspired by a petition started by some British Iranians in London calling on the Mayor to speak up for Nazanin, as her health deteriorates. We thank them, the Hampstead Mums and all those in Britain, Iran and beyond who care for Nazanin - for their solidarity, and for keeping us strong in saying that some things should not be.”
Amnesty has been calling on the Iranian authorities to immediately release Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who it considers is a prisoner of conscience. The organisation is also calling for the Iranian authorities to release Mr Foroughi under the country’s early-release laws. For more on Iran and human rights, go here.