Richard Ratcliffe is now 18 days into his hunger strike outside of the Foreign Office in a brave move to bring attention to government inaction to free his wife, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, from prison in Iran.
Nazanin has been unjustly detained in Tehran, Iran since 2016. She was initially given a 5 year prison sentence on false national security charges but she was not freed and able to return to her family when this sentence ended in March 2021. Instead, it was extended for a further 2 years due to a second trial with a fresh and equally false charge.
Richard was prompted to begin this hunger strike when Nazanin lost her appeal against this second charge in October.
Richard himself has said:
People ask whether this self-inflicted punishment is worthwhile. But I felt I had no choice: it seemed the moral thing to do. I felt that if I did not act, it was likely that within weeks my wife, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has been furloughed from jail in Tehran, would be sent back for a second sentence. By acting, I hoped to forestall this.
You can read Richard’s account in full in his recent article for The Guardian HERE.
Richard’s protest has rightly drawn a huge amount of public and media attention to Nazanin’s situation as well as raised concern for other detained dual nationals. Since 2016, three other British nationals are known to have faced grossly unjust trials and are now imprisoned in Iran: Anoosheh Ashoori, Morad Tahbaz and Mehran Raoof.
Celebrities, politicians and other well-wishers have all visited Richard over the last two and a half weeks and he credits this support with having garnered him a meeting with Liz Truss, the current Foreign Secretary. The meeting seemed to be frustrating and unfruitful, only serving to strengthen Richard’s resolve in his hunger strike. He feels that:
The policy is one of managed waiting, waiting for Iran to do the right thing, for a diplomatic solution. There is no strategy to get Naz home, which I said very bluntly to Liz Truss last week. That’s why I’m camping on the street, because after five and a half years that’s really clear.
If your MP has not yet visited Richard or publicly supported the #FreeNazanin campaign then please write to them requesting that they do so to continue to stress that the UK public stand with the Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s, the Ashoori’s and all those affected by Iran’s hostage taking.
We would again like to thank Anna McMorrin, MP for Cardiff North, for visiting with Richard and we hope that Jo Stevens, Kevin Brennan and Stephen Doughty will also visit to show that Cardiff stand in solidarity with Richard as he fights to bring Nazanin home.
If you would like to get involved with Cardiff Amnesty you can email us via firstname.lastname@example.org