Hampstead-based mothers marched in London today for the release of a British Iranian mother jailed in Iran on what her husband describes as “secret charges.”
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been jailed for eight months and separated from her two year old daughter who is being cared for by her grandparents in Iran.
A crowd of around 50 marched from Green Park to Downing Street this morning, calling on Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to use their influence to push for the release of the jailed mother. Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, who was on the march, told the BBC the Iranian Revolutionary Guard have not revealed her charges.
A journalist on the march, Yannis Mendez, said: “There is speculation that she is being used as a bargaining chip for the £400 million that the UK owe Iran.”
“Nazanin has been on a hunger strike and her mental and physical health is declining,” said a spokesperson for Hampstead Life, a local newspaper and the march organisers. Her daughter’s passport has been confiscated by the Iranian authorities and she is stuck, thousands of kilometres away from her father.
“She has been imprisoned for no reason. If we believe in justice, she should be free.” She added: “We have been signing petitions and writing letters for too long, now we are here to make some noise! It’s time for justice and common sense to prevail.”
March organisers from Hampstead’s local news outlet, Ham & High, handed a letter to Downing Street urging Theresa May to call for Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release. Meanwhile, Hampstead mothers, with their children, held placards showing messages such as, “Hey ho Boris, remember Nazanin,” and “Families belong together.” British actor Tom Conti also joined to show his support.
— Ham and High (@HamandHigh) October 13, 2016
On the morning of the march, demonstrators met at Belsize Park where they planted a garden of flowers in hope that Zaghari-Ratcliffe will return in time to see them bloom in Spring.
A Foreign Office spokesperson told the BBC that the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary would continue to raise the issue “with their counterparts in Iran.” As the previous Foreign Secretary, Phillip Hammond told the Guardian, he had “raised the case a number of times, and (…) subsequently followed that up with a letter.” But no effort has been made on the government’s part to check on Ratliffe-Zaghari’s welfare.
The demonstrators showed their support for Zaghari-Ratcliffe, from North London, as fellow mothers and residents of Hampstead. They hope that she will be released to rejoin her family for Christmas. Mendez said, “The mothers are saying they can’t imagine spending Christmas without their babies.”