I remember the day clearly, Tom had taken Lily out and I was cradling a then 4 month old Rosa. I remember eagerly awaiting Anoosheh Ashoori to run past on the TV. The date was 2nd October 2022 and it was the London Marathon. It was early in the movement and Iranians had taken to the streets in protest over the death of Mahsa Amini. The outrage had rippled through the Iranian diaspora, yet the media wasn't covering it. I (along with many others) felt this frustration as we took to social media to spread the news of happenings in Iran. And then, as I was just about to switch over, there was Anoosheh, courageously running most of the marathon in his prison outfit after being released from Evin prison earlier that year. BBC had cornered him to talk about his campaign for Amnesty UK and in that moment he shone a light on the protests on live TV… you can hear my reaction here and ever since I've followed the Ashoori family's journey.
Elika, daughter of Anoosheh, is an actress and baker by trade, but brave activist and freedom fighter by night. She has fiercely used her platform to shout loudly about the movement in Iran and put herself firmly in the public eye, appearing on many news channels, in magazines and daytime shows - she even cut her hair in support of the women in Iran live on Lorraine.
In Feb 2023, Vogue featured Elika, alongside 4 other Iranian women in their 'This Is A Revolution' feature.
The article explains – For Elika Ashoori, 36, campaigning for human rights in Iran took over her life for five years: in 2017, her father, Anoosheh, a British Iranian businessman, was detained by the Iranian authorities and sentenced to 12 years in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, accused of allegedly “spying for Israel’s Mossad” and “acquiring illegitimate wealth”. He was eventually released and came home on the same flight as Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. Spending her formative years in Iran and moving to the UK as a teenager Ashoori knows well how hard life is for young Iranians, striving for freedom under a regime that has forced an extreme patriarchal vision of Islamic law on its people. “There are so many restrictions on women in daily life: how you dress, if you have nail polish on, where you go, who with. My brother and I would have to take our passports to the restaurant or a coffee shop to prove to the morality police that we were not boyfriend and girlfriend” Elika continues “The whole system is geared against women. If Iran was a Western country, there would be uproar about how women are treated.”
Photo credit - Created by Vogue. Photographs by Aria Shahrokhshahi. Styling by Honey Sweet Elias.
Running the London Marathon
Now Elika, along with her brother Aryan and father Anoosheh will be running the London Marathon on Sunday April 23, 2023 for Amnesty International UK. Elika explains “Amnesty helps give voice to the voiceless and makes sure that the atrocities committed by this regime are not forgotten and that the individuals suffering at the hands of this regime are given the attention and support they need.
I dedicate this run and all my subsequent runs until the very big one in April to the women of Iran and hope there will be a day where we can all run free.”
What an inspirational woman and family! Please join us in supporting Elika in her efforts to raise donations for Amnesty International UK today: