Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband ends 21-day hunger strike

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The husband of British-Iranian detainee Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe brought his 21-day hunger strike to an end on Saturday saying their child “needs two parents”.

Richard Ratcliffe has been protesting outside the UK Foreign Office, demanding the government does more to secure his wife’s release from Iran, which has detained her for the last five years on spying charges.

The Foreign Office says it is doing all it can to help bring Zaghari-Ratcliffe home to the UK.

She was arrested there in 2016 while taking the couple’s daughter, Gabriella, to see her family, and was accused of plotting to overthrow the government. She served four years of a five-year sentence in Evin prison in Tehran, and one under house arrest.

Her husband began protesting on October 24, hoping to put pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to meet Iranian delegates at the COP26 climate summit and to demand freedom for Britons detained in Iran.

For the past three weeks, he has been sleeping in a small tent in Whitehall, taking in only liquid.

Mr. Ratcliffe said he had started to get pains in his feet overnight and after a chat with his doctor, the decision was made to end the hunger strike.

He said he had told his wife he would end the demonstration if it got to that point because he did not want to “go out in an ambulance” but rather wanted to “walk out with my head held high”.

He also said he hoped to eat something after visiting hospital.

Mr. Ratcliffe was joined by seven-year-old Gabriella on Saturday and said the hunger strike had been “a lovely experience emotionally” but “tough physically”.

“It’s only when it stops that you realise quite the toll it’s taken on your body,” he said.

He offered a “warm thank-you” to everyone who supported him, adding “I wouldn’t have got through this alone”.

Mr. Ratcliffe said his daughter was relieved and happy he was coming home, and it was now his job to recover and think about what the next steps would be.

He said he felt a “greater spotlight” had been shone on his wife’s case and he felt as though “we’ve stopped the backward movement”.

After a meeting with Foreign Office minister James Cleverly on Thursday, Mr. Ratcliffe admitted feeling “fairly deflated” but added he thought the government had seen a “huge depth of care around the country for Nazanin’s case”.

He also criticized Mr. Johnson for not visiting him during his hunger strike, and said: “He hasn’t dealt adequately with Nazanin’s case for years.

“He hasn’t honoured his promises. And we live with those consequences.”

He added that Mr. Johnson “shouldn’t just walk away from promises made”.

It is the second time Mr. Ratcliffe has gone on hunger strike, having camped in front of the Iranian embassy for 15 days two years ago – a move he said had resulted in getting his daughter home.

Amnesty International UK said it was a “striking reflection on the UK government” that Mr. Ratcliffe had felt it necessary to resort to such “an extreme form of protest” again. (Source: BBC)

 

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