Husband of jailed Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe goes on hunger strike for a SECOND time in protest at government’s ‘failure’ to secure her release in Iran as she loses appeal over sentence
- Richard Ratcliffe on hunger strike to persuade government to secure her release
- He has long campaigned for wife’s freedom and says he is ‘shocked’ and ‘angry’
- Nazanin was jailed in 2016 for allegedly plotting to overthrow Iran’s government
- Mother-of-one lost her appeal earlier this month against second prison sentence
- Unable to leave, she is now on house arrest in Tehran and lives with her mother
The husband of jailed British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has gone on hunger strike for a second time following the government’s ‘failure’ to secure her release back to the UK.
Richard Ratcliffe will start the hunger strike outside the Foreign office in London after his wife, who has been detained in Iran since April 2016, lost her appeal against a second jail sentence earlier this month.
He intends to sleep in a tent at night and is ‘shocked’ and ‘angry’ over his wife’s latest conviction and the government’s ‘inaction and failure’ to get the mother-of-one home, their MP has said.
She will return to jail for another year and is then subject to a travel ban for a further year after that.
Richard Ratcliffe (Pictured) will start the hunger strike outside the Foreign office in London after his wife, who has been detained in Iran since April 2016, lost her appeal against a second jail sentence earlier this month
A portrait of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (pictured) displayed by her husband who is protesting outside the Foreign Office while on hunger strike, part of an effort to lobby the UK foreign secretary to bring his wife home from detention in Iran
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (R) lost her appeal against a second jail sentence earlier this month and her husband Richard (L) admits he is ‘shocked’ and ‘angry’
Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 42, has completed a sentence in the Islamic Republic over widely refuted allegations of plotting to overthrow its government. She strongly denies the charges.
She was taking her daughter Gabriella to see her family when she was arrested and was sentenced to five years in prison.
The mother-of-one was held in the notorious Evin jail for four years, where political prisoners are usually tortured, but is currently under house arrest at her parents’ home after Covid swept through the overcrowded cells.
According to her family, she was told by Iranian authorities that she was being detained because of the UK’s failure to pay an outstanding £400 million debt to Iran.
Non-profit organisation Redress said that, while Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe has not yet been summoned to prison, it is unclear whether she will be returned to prison or house arrest with an ankle tag, or whether she will be ‘left in limbo in Iran indefinitely’.
On a petition on Change.Org, which has more than 3.5 million signatures as of Sunday afternoon, Mr Ratcliffe has written: ‘Two years ago I went on hunger strike in front of the Iranian Embassy, on the eve of Boris Johnson taking over as Prime Minister.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been travelling with her daughter Gabriella, now six, (pictured together during a temporary release in 2018) who was cared for by relatives in Iran until eventually coming home to her father in 2019
Richard (pictured) will also be making a patchwork blanket over the course of the strike, with a mixture of drawn and sewn patches, for each day Nazanin has been held
‘Two years ago we were allowed to camp in front of Iranian Embassy for 15 days, much to their considerable anger. But it got Gabriella home.
‘We are now giving the UK government the same treatment. In truth, I never expected to have to do a hunger strike twice. It is not a normal act.
‘It seems extraordinary the need to adopt the same tactics to persuade government here, to cut through the accountability gap.
‘Of course Iran still remains the primary abuser in Nazanin’s case. But our family is caught in a dispute between two states.
‘The UK is also letting us down. It is increasingly clear that Nazanin’s case could have been solved many months ago, but for other diplomatic agendas. The PM needs to take responsibility for that.’
He has also said he will be making a patchwork blanket over the course of the strike, with a mixture of drawn and sewn patches, for each day Nazanin has been held.
Labour MP Tulip Siddiq tweeted on Sunday afternoon: ‘My heart breaks to write this, but once again my constituent Richard Ratcliffe has been forced to go on hunger strike because of the Government’s inaction and failure to FreeNazanin.
Labour MP Tulip Siddiq tweeted support for Richard Ratcliffe and his wife on Sunday afternoon
‘It should never have come to this.’
Rupert Skilbeck, director of Redress, said: ‘It’s deeply worrying that Richard Ratcliffe has felt compelled to resort once again to a life-threatening measure to bring attention to the desperate plight of his family.
‘Five years on, we have only seen setback after setback. The UK Government’s approach is clearly not working.
‘It’s time to stand up to perpetrators of hostage-taking by sanctioning those who perpetuate this reprehensible practice, and to bring Nazanin home.’
Sacha Deshmukh, chief executive of Amnesty International UK, said: “It’s so incredibly upsetting that it’s come to this.
“Like Richard, we’ve grown tired of hearing ministers saying they’re ‘doing all they can’ for Nazanin and other arbitrarily-detained Britons in Iran – it doesn’t look like that to us, and it certainly hasn’t produced results.”
He said the Government should set out a clearly articulated strategy for how it intends to secure the release of Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe and other British nationals detained in Iran.
“We call on Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and other ministers to take the time to come out of their offices to visit Richard at his tent. Ministers need to hear first-hand how desperate this situation is,” Mr Deshmukh said.
A spokeswoman for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), said: ‘Iran’s decision to proceed with these baseless charges against Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is an appalling continuation of the cruel ordeal she is going through.
‘Instead of threatening to return Nazanin to prison Iran must release her permanently so she can return home.
‘We are doing all we can to help Nazanin get home to her young daughter and family and we will continue to press Iran on this point.’
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