Laugh? I nearly cried…
On June 24th Cardiff Amnesty partnered with the Cardiff Open Air Theatre Festival for the second sell-out ‘Stand Up in the Park’ in support of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
You may have heard of Nazanin. It has now been over 800 days since Nazanin was arrested at a Tehran airport after a family visit to Iran with her infant daughter Gabriella. Detained for over five months, initially in solitary confinement without access to a lawyer, Nazanin was sentenced to five years in prison in September 2016 after being convicted of ‘membership of an illegal group’ in a grossly unfair trial by a Revolutionary Court. Separated from her mother and father, Gabriella Ratcliffe has been living with her grandparents as an innocent victim trapped in Iran.
Cardiff Amnesty volunteers were joined by Nazanin’s husband, Richard, and sister-in-law, Rebecca, to raise awareness of this ongoing injustice. With 400 tickets sold the event was a huge success, with expressions of concern and hope for Nazanin and Gabriella’s early release. It was another reminder that the people of Cardiff are united in their determination to see justice done. The message rang out loud and clear: NAZANIN MUST BE RELEASED!
The Cardiff Amnesty team were also on hand to explain the case of Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid (known as Shawkan). Shawkan was arrested on 14 August 2013 in the course of peacefully carrying out his work as a photojournalist. He was held illegally for more than two years, and in March 2018 the prosecutor called for the death penalty for all the defendants in his court case. Amnesty International are calling on Egypt’s authorities to drop all charges and release Shawkan immediately as he is a prisoner of conscience detained solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression.
Comedy with a social conscience
Compere for the night, Clint Edwards, set the scene seen for a night of comedy by highlighting Nazanin’s case. The capacity crowd in Cardiff’s Sophia Gardens were treated to hilarious stand up from Rhys James, Kiri Pritchard-McLean, Ben Norris and Lorna Pritchard (pictured above). Side-splitting performances were accompanied by calls for the UK Government to take action to secure Nazanin’s early release in a night not soon to be forgotten.
Audience members queued up to have their photograph taken holding placards to free Nazanin, and shared jokes online. Last month Gabriella Ratcliffe also turned four. The night’s festivities therefore culminated with the people of Wales, voices raised in song, wishing Gabriella a happy fourth birthday. It was a sing along which was not to be missed!
A huge thank you is owed to the Cardiff Open Air Theatre Festival for their second year of support. With shows running to the end of July we urge you to support this fantastic charity. Our thanks also go to Natasha Hirst, our photographer, who was on hand to capture the night on film. You can read Natasha’s blog here.
Amnesty International will go on campaigning for Nazanin’s release and raise awareness of other human rights abuses. If you are inspired to take up the Amnesty banner to fight injustice contact Owen at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow our social media here.