Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian charity worker who has been held in a Tehran prison since 2016, is currently on a hunger strike — part of a desperate effort to call attention to her plight. And as CNN reports, her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, is joining her with his own hunger strike in London.
Ratcliffe has pitched a tent outside the Iranian embassy in London, where he began his strike on Saturday. He has been drinking water and mint tea, but has not been eating anything. “Hunger strikes in prison can be ignored, whereas on your doorstep is a different thing,” he told CNN.
According to The New York Times, the protest was timed to coincide with the fifth birthday of the couple’s daughter, Gabriella. It was while traveling with Garbiella to Iran that Zaghari-Ratcliffe was detained. She had gone to visit her parents. She was accused of conspiring to overthrow the Iranian government, and sentenced to five years in prison.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s family claims that authorities in Iran are using her as a diplomatic “tool of pressure.” Amnesty International calls her “a prisoner of conscience, unfairly jailed after a sham trial.” The organization says Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been “subjected to all manner of torments — including months in solitary and endless game-playing over whether she would receive vital medical care.”
British officials and the United Nations have both tried to push for her release, but she remains in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison. According to the Times, the Iranian embassy has not heeded Richard Ratcliffe’s repeated requests to meet for a discussion about his wife’s case.
This is Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s third hunger strike, the longest of which was six days.
“We have tried to campaign nicely, we have tried to campaign in lots of ways,” her husband told the Times. “And they have forced her to now go on three hunger strikes, and I’ll be damned if I am going to let her do this alone anymore.”