Mum’s fears over Iran hunger strike
ABRITISH-IRANIAN mother detained in Tehran feels a “strong sense of trepidation” ahead of embarking on a hunger strike after being denied health care, her husband said.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe will strike for three days starting this week along with Narges Mohammadi, an Iranian human rights defender who is also behind bars in Evin prison.
Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe has suffered a catalogue of mental and physical health complaints since she was arrested at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini airport on April 3 2016.
Husband Richard Ratcliffe, speaking to the Observer, said: “We know a hunger strike has significant physical consequences the longer it goes on for and Nazanin is feeling a strong sense of trepidation.
“But there aren’t many ways she can say, ‘Enough is enough. Take me seriously’.”
Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe will consider extending the hunger strike - a protest after being denied medical care in prison - if her demands to see a doctor are not met, Mr Ratcliffe said.
He said his wife was having medical treatment blocked for checking lumps in her breasts, neurological care over her neck pains and numbness in her arms and legs, and for seeing an outside psychiatrist.
Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, of Hampstead in north London, was sentenced to five years in jail after being accused of spying, a charge she strongly denies.
She spent her 40th birthday on Boxing Day in prison, where she has been detained for more than 1,000 days.
The charity worker’s four-year-old daughter Gabriella has been staying with family in Iran since Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who works for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was detained.
Husband Richard has mounted a high-profile campaign for his wife’s release, supported by Mrs ZaghariRatcliffe’s sister-in-law Rebecca Jones, who works as a GP in Ebbw Vale.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has previously warned Iran there will be “consequences” over its treatment of Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
Responding to her plans for a hunger strike, Mr Hunt told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “She is incredibly brave. We are all thinking of her.
“Our message to Iran is very simple - do not use individual innocent people as pawns of diplomatic leverage.
“There will be consequences for Iran and for Iran’s reputation in the world. The UK is backing Nazanin. We will do everything we possibly can to get her home safely.”
Amnesty International UK’s director Kate Allen said: “We welcome Jeremy Hunt’s concern for Nazanin and again urge the Government to do everything it can to avert the need for her to embark on the perilous course of a hunger strike next week.
“If the UK can convince the Iranian prison authorities to allow Nazanin the medical care she needs that would be an important step forward.
“Most of all though, the UK needs to reiterate its insistence that Nazanin is a charity worker not a criminal.”
> Nazanin ZaghariRatcliffe with her daughter Gabriella