Nazanin’s Chain of Care

The group is riding high after winning Amnesty International’s 2019 UK Human Rights Award for ‘outstanding and selfless service to dignity, liberty, and justice’. We owe all our supporters a very BIG thank you. Well done Cardiff!

Knit for Naz

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The Rosary Basilica in Lourdes

Our campaigning over the last three years for the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was commended at Amnesty International’s recent AGM.

So here is the update that you have been waiting for since the launch of our knitting call to action in March.

We have been overwhelmed by the support that our ‘Knit for Naz’ campaign has generated. Individuals and groups have rallied to the call. We have received messages of support and news of knitting projects in Bristol, Dorking, Wrecclesham, Carlisle, Warrington, Nottingham, Wolverhampton, Guildford, Bromley, Southampton, Church Stretton, Wharfedale, Pembroke, Pontyclun, Conwy, Cardigan, Gifford … the list goes on … we have even made it to Lourdes in France with HCPT!

So to recap …

Since the 3rd April 2016 Nazanin and her daughter, Gabriella, have been unjustly imprisoned in Iran. Nazanin was returning to the UK after a family holiday when she was detained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Following her detention she was sentenced to five years imprisonment for allegedly plotting against the state. Nazanin’s daughter, Gabriella, then only 22 months old was left stranded in Iran with her grandparents, separated from her mother and father.

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Gabriella, photo courtesy of The Times, 18.02.2019

We have learnt that Nazanin and other political prisoners knit gifts for Gabriella. In the photo you can see Gabriella wearing a mustard-coloured beret knitted by her mother. Around her neck she wears a pink scarf knitted by her mother’s cell mate, renowned human rights activist Narges Mohammadi.

In this everyday act of kindness we saw an opportunity to highlight the enormity of Nazanin’s sentence.

On Sunday 7th July 2019 Cardiff Amnesty will host the third ‘Stand up in the Park’ comedy night in collaboration with the Cardiff Open Air Theatre Festival. By the 7th July Nazanin will have spent 1,190 days in prison separated from her daughter and loved ones.

But how do we mark this unimaginable length of time, a life put on hold for three long years?

People across the UK have been highlighting this injustice by knitting a symbolic chain, each link of which contains 1,190 stitches. That might sound like a lot of stitches but remember each stitch represents one lost day of worry and heartbreak for an ordinary woman separated from everything that she loves. We plan to unveil the chain at this year’s ‘Stand Up in the Park’ comedy festival in Cardiff. And the good news is that we have already received over 150 links!

And here’s the plan … 

We are asking you join us at 7.30pm on Monday 13th May at the fabulous Pettigrew Tea Rooms in the centre of Cardiff to help us knit a chain symbolising both Nazanin’s imprisonment and the links that join us together. You will find the knitting instructions below. Much like a chain, society is only as strong as its weakest point and that is why we must continue fighting to secure Nazanin’s release.

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Avid Cardiff Amnesty knitters

If you can’t join us on the 13th May, or would prefer to knit your sections of the chain at home, you can post your knitted chain links to Owen Collins c/o 43 Cathedral Road, Cardiff, CF11 9HD. You might even consider holding your own ‘Knit for Naz’ event like other people around the country.

Directions to the Pettigrew Tea Rooms can be found here. We have also been asked to remind everyone that there is no parking at the Tea Rooms and no disabled access to the first floor.

What would you do with this chain?

We have been asked what will happen to the chain when Nazanin is released. Richard Ratcliffe, Nazanin’s husband, has asked if it could be donated to the family as a reminder that Nazanin was not forgotten during these dark years. We all agree that this is a great idea.

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Amnesty AGM delegates holding the ‘chain of care’ 13.04.2019

In the meantime, we want to use this chain as a campaigning tool. But here is the question, ‘What would you do with this chain to raise awareness of Nazanin and Gabriella’s plight?’

If you have a brilliant idea why don’t you come and tell us on the 13th May. There will even be a prize for the best suggestion!

This is why it’s important

With injustice in the world it is often easy to feel powerless and unable to make a difference. This is why we were proud to receive this note from Richard ahead of the Amnesty AGM:

Thank you Cardiff Amnesty for organising the Knit for Naz event, and to everyone involved in making this chain of care. Nazanin is very touched by the remembering – I have told her that one day we will use the chain as decoration for a celebration.

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Richard Ratcliffe at ‘Stand up in the Park 2018’

Thanks to everyone at Amnesty – staff, volunteers, and groups up and down the country – for standing by Nazanin’s side these past three years, for keeping alive the idea of a different day, and reminding us of kindnesses – us and many other prisoners families.

May you continue to share such strength and light.

Richard, April 2019

Please do continue spreading the word far and wide. There is no reason why this action can’t take place across the globe, at Knit for Naz nights, or simply by people knitting in front of their TV.

Stand Up in the Park 2019

The chain of care will be unveiled at ‘Stand Up in the Park’ and we would love you to be there to see it happen. We have been asked if this is the ‘knitting deadline’. Well, yes and no …

It would be great if your knitted links could be sent to us by Friday 21st June so that we have time to stitch them together for the big show. But don’t worry if you miss this date. As long as we get the links eventually we don’t mind how long it takes. The important thing is that we continue to campaign for Nazanin and Gabriella’s freedom.

Stand Up in the Park will be held in Sophia Gardens on Sunday 7th July at 8.00pm with the bar open from 7.00pm. Tickets cost £18.00 and are available here. To get involved or to learn more contact Owen at amnesty.cardiff@btinternet.com

Cardiff Amnesty and the Cardiff Open Air Theatre Festival are asking you to share photos of your knitting projects @AmnestyCardiff @CDFOpenAirFest. If you have a Ravelry account you can also track the project as it develops here.

As usual we will be using #FreeNazanin in support of Nazanin and her family. You can also take action today by signing a petition here calling for Nazanin’s release and learn more about Amnesty’s work here.

Knitting instructions

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The chain links can be any colour you choose but we are asking you to follow these pattern instructions (and please don’t weave the loose ends in, as we can use them to sew the links together).

To create rectangular strips approximately 30x5cm:

DK weight yarn (any fibre can be used, e.g. wool, acrylic, cotton, or a blend) at a gauge of 22 stitches and 28 rows in 10cm. 4mm needles (UK old size 8, American size 6) is the usual suggested needle size but adjust this for your personal knitting tension.

Cast on 70 stitches. Then knit 17 rows straight (this will produce garter stitch).  Then cast off … the chains of oppression.

 

 

 

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