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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's hunger strike is 'heartbreaking situation'

Nazanin with her daughter Gabriella
Nazanin with her daughter Gabriella © Free Nazanin

Amnesty supporters to visit Richard Ratcliffe at his parallel hunger strike protest outside Iranian Embassy in London

‘It’s shocking that it’s come to this’ - Kate Allen

Responding to news that the jailed UK charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has started a hunger strike in protest at her continued imprisonment in Iran - while her husband Richard Ratcliffe has also gone on hunger strike outside the Iranian Embassy in London - Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK’s Director, said:

“This is a truly heartbreaking situation.

“Nazanin has already been through so much, while her husband Richard has strained every sinew to get Nazanin out of jail and back to the UK where she belongs.

“Nazanin is a prisoner of conscience, unfairly jailed after a sham trial and subjected to all manner of torments - including months in solitary conferment and endless game-playing over whether she would receive vital medical care.

“It’s shocking that it’s come to this, and we and countless people across the county fervently hope the Iranian authorities will now finally do the right thing and release Nazanin.

“I’ll be visiting Richard outside the Iranian Embassy, and I know some of his many supporters will be doing the same.”

Richard Ratcliffe to camp outside Iranian Embassy

Amnesty’s campaign for Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release has been supported by almost 200,000 people, and a number of Amnesty supporters are expected to visit Richard Ratcliffe outside the Iranian Embassy in central London in the coming days as he embarks on a solidarity protest on behalf of his wife.

Mr Ratcliffe has announced that he will maintain a 24-hour vigil outside the embassy in Knightsbridge, camping out overnight.

Earlier this week (11 June), the couple’s daughter Gabriella had her fifth birthday and Richard Ratcliffe will hold a candle-lit event (at approximately 8.30pm) marking this milestone outside the embassy on Sunday.

Grossly unfair trial and ongoing health concerns

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 40, a British-Iranian dual-national charity worker, was arrested at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport on 3 April 2016 prior to boarding a plane back to the UK after a regular family visit to the country with her infant daughter Gabriella. After being detained in solitary confinement without access to a lawyer, Zaghari-Ratcliffe 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 in Tehran.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe is presently serving a five-year jail sentence in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison. Since being jailed, she has suffered a serious decline in her physical and mental health, something her husband has repeatedly drawn attention to during a high-profile campaign on his wife’s behalf. Her requests for periods of temporary release - for which she is eligible - have been met on only one occasion (last August), followed three days later by a return to jail. Amnesty described her return to jail on 26 August as a “crushing disappointment”. She is suffering from numerous health problems - including severe arm, neck and back pain - and there have been serious concerns over her mental health.

Amnesty has designated Zaghari-Ratcliffe a prisoner of conscience targeted solely for the peaceful exercise of her rights to freedom of expression and association. Amnesty has repeatedly called on the Iranian authorities to release her immediately and unconditionally.

In December, Zaghari-Ratcliffe completed her 1,000th day in detention, and three days prior to that she turned 40 in jail.

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