#FreeNazanin vigil outside Iranian Embassy

Pic: Katriona Thompson

Human rights supporters from Tower Hamlets have held a vigil outside the Iranian Embassy for a British-Iranian woman who is being held in prison in Iran. This is the latest case to be taken up by members of Tower Hamlets Amnesty International group, concerned about alleged human rights abuses in the country.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her daughter, Gabriella, aged 2, were detained by Iranian Revolutionary Guards at the airport on their way back to London from visiting family in Iran. Gabriella’s British passport was confiscated and she is currently left stranded with her grandparents in Iran. Her mother has been transferred to an unknown location in the province of Kerman and is held in solitary confinement.

Nazain Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband Richard. Pic: Katriona Thompson

During the vigil Richard Ratcliffe,Nazanin’s husband, delivered a letter to the Iranian Embassy near Hyde Park just before it closed to renew his call for her release. He also included a small packaged letter containing cards of hope to Nazanin.

He said, “It’s obviously very hard, Nazanin has been now held for almost 10 months and at the beginning it was a shock, a disorientation and a horror”

But then a few weeks later, he said, campaign was launched.

Amnesty International and the local Tower Hamlets branch also attended the vigil.

Rebecca Dallison, Urgent Action Coordinator at Amnesty International said the government had raised the case privately with the Iranian authorities but she felt more needed to be done.

“What we really want them to be doing is raising it publicly,really coming out and saying to the Iranian government ‘you need to do something about Nazanin’s case’.”

Campaigners also want Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to meet the families of Nazanin and other dual nationals like her currently being held in prison.

Daren Nair is a volunteer in the Amnesty Tower Hamlets branch where they’ve been holding Write for Right. She added “We held one in the Idea Store in Whitechapel and people came in and wrote messages. The Tower Hamlets group meets twice a month and re-writes petitions to the government.”

Christmas cards made by human rights supporters for Nazanin and Gabriella over the festive period were read out by attendees, who held on to lighted candles.

The last time Nazanin appeared in at the Revolutionary court in Tehran, accompanied by her lawyer was on Wednesday January 4. The hearing was held in secret with family members and the wider public unable to attend.

According to the #FreeNazanin petition site, the Revolutionary Court consisted of three judges along with a number of Revolutionary guards.The court procedure lasted 3 hours.

No verdict was announced. Nazanin’s family was unable to meet her lawyer to find out what had happened in the courtroom. They also had had no contact from her.

Initially the authorities had agreed to weekly visits for 22-month old Gabriella. However a few days after the trial prison authorities informed the family that Nazanin had been moved to the women’s political ward and no visits were allowed to anyone imprisoned there.

Since April over 800,000 people have signed the petition calling for Nazanin and Gabriella’s freedom. When the campaigners reach their goal of one million signatures,the petitionwill be sent to Prime Minister Theresa May, her predecessor David Cameron and the Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

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