Saturday Weds 1100 26th June 2019
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I know I haven’t written anything for a long time.. okay a VERY long time. It’s not because I haven’t been doing anything to write about but rather that I have been doing too much and haven’t had much time left to write. I’m not a natural writer either so it is always a bit of a struggle.
But Weds was a moving day and I was determined to write a post about it.
On Weds 26th June I attended the #TimeIsNow mass lobby of Parliament in London but that’s not what I’m going to write about.
You can read lots of information about the Climate Emergency and the Time Is Now by clicking here
After the event, feeling tired, hot and with aching feet, I set off to visit Richard Ratcliffe who is camped outside the Iranian Embassy. He is on hunger strike in support of his wife Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who is also on hunger strike in an Iranian Prison. ( See update below)
I am by no means an expert on this case but I can tell you that Nazanin, a British Iranian mother was convicted of being a spy in 2016, without evidence, and has been imprisoned ever since. She was on her way home with her 1 year old daughter Gabriella after visiting her parents in Iran when she was arrested at Tehran airport. Her daughter has to remain with her parents in Iran and is now 5 and I believe Richard has not seen either of them since. It seems Nazanin’s only crime was to work for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, a UK-based media charity who Iran claimed were an Illegal group. You can read more about this organisation here
Her situation was made worse by the then utterly incompetent Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson claiming “she was simply teaching people journalism, as I understand it,” a completely false statement and a result of him not bothering to do his job properly. You can read about that here
There has been a lot of media coverage so a quick internet search will give you lots more information.
Below is a newspaper article, pinned up along with the many cards and notes from well wishers. It highlights the Iranian Embassy’s response in erecting an iron barrier between him and the door. No one from the Embassy has come out to talk with Richard. It would be good if the Ambassador Hamid Baeidinejad would find it in his heart do that.
On the day I visited ( you can see a photo of myself and Richard above ) it was a very hot day but Richard was dressed as though it was really cold, a side effect of being on hunger strike for, at that time, 12 days. Richard welcomes everyone to come and sit for a few minutes with him and there was a short queue. He is quietly spoken, very courteous and willing to talk but he looks so very tired and there is an immense sadness in his eyes. He is very appreciative of people visiting him and it appears to give him strength but I fear for his health and that of Nazanin.
Richard had not spoken to his wife since Monday ( she has to phone him) and still hasn’t at time of me writing this (late Friday). I can only imagine the agony of that.
He is supported by a wonderful group of friends and family who keep his spirits up. There are 3 small tents on the pavement where they sleep. It is very basic but cheered up by the flowers, painted stones and cards that people bring, all of which restore your faith in the goodness of people.
Afterwards I could go home, have a hot bath, rest my weary bones, eat and sleep in my comfortable bed. I was acutely aware that Richard cannot do any of those things; separated from the woman and child he loves so much and already for more than 3 years. A nightmare that goes on and on but I hope will soon end.
My message to the Iranian Government is simple.
You may feel as though you have been backed, or have backed yourself, into a corner but it’s not too late to show that you are so much better than this inhumane imprisonment of Nazanin.
Think of your own daughters, wives, sisters, mothers, children.
Whatever disagreements you may have with the UK Government, it is wrong to punish an innocent family in this way. Releasing her will not be seen as an act of weakness but an act of compassion and justice.
To everyone reading this – here is how you can help. Even doing one small thing might make all the difference.
Richard had a call from Nazanin this morning. She has stopped her hunger strike so Richard has stopped his too and the camp outside the Embassy will be taken down BUT Nazanin is still not free so all the other ways you can help still apply.
If you are in London consider visiting Richard outside the Embassy to offer him, and his friends and family , support. You can keep up with whether he is still there by following the #FreeNazanin facebook page by clicking here There is also a letter template available on the page for anyone to use to write to the Iranian Ambassador but please keep it polite.
or the Change.org Facebook page where Richard has been posting a daily blog here
or on Twitter here
Sign the petition on Change.org and help it get to 3 million – Here
There is also a petition on Amnesty International – Here
The website of the Iranian Embassy in the UK is Here
Their contact page is Here
If you live somewhere else in the world you can check Here if there is an Iranian Embassy in your country- If there is, please consider writing a short letter of polite support to the Ambassador
It is my sincere hope that Nazanin, Richard and their extended families ordeal will soon be over and Nazanin will be freed.
Your comments are welcome as ever.
Saturday Girl signing off.
You can find my photography blog Photomania here