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Free Nazanin: MP calls on Prime Minister to meet Richard Ratcliffe as family celebrate Gabriella’s fourth birthday

PUBLISHED: 10:55 12 June 2018 | UPDATED: 11:00 12 June 2018

Valentina Zamorano, four, lights a candle for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's daughter Gabriella. Picture: Linda Grove

Valentina Zamorano, four, lights a candle for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's daughter Gabriella. Picture: Linda Grove

Archant

On day 800 of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s incarceration in Iran, her family and supporters held a demonstration outside the Foreign Office in Whitehall – and called on the Prime Minister to personally meet Richard Ratcliffe to discuss his wife’s case.

Becca Ratcliffe, Gabriella's aunt, at the protest. Picture: Linda Grove Becca Ratcliffe, Gabriella's aunt, at the protest. Picture: Linda Grove

The demonstration was also to mark the fourth birthday of Gabriella Ratcliffe, Nazanin’s daughter, who has been stranded in Iran in the care of her grandparents since her UK passport was confiscated upon her mother’s arrest.

Family and supporters lit 800 birthday candles for Gabriella, before singing Happy Birthday to her over Skype.

Richard told the Ham&High: “It feels like someone somewhere is blocking things. She was supposed to get out on furlough [temporary leave for Gabriella’s birthday], right? But then someone blocked that. It’s like there’s a game being played.

“The government needs to do more. They talk about human rights but it feels like that comes second. It’s outrageous, really.”

The government palmed off an earlier call for Theresa May to meet Richard, with foreign secretary Boris Johnson instead stepping in last November.

The Ratcliffes brought the painted stones that were decorated during the Mothers’ March for Nazanin, which took place in March.

Richard added: “It’s good that Boris Johnson walked past and will have noticed us here. We’re also here today, with the stones, to remind the foreign secretary of his promise to leave no stone unturned.”

The Ratcliffe family’s MP, Tulip Siddiq, also attended, reading the Christina Rossetti poem A Birthday for Gabriella.

Foreign secretary Boris Johnson waves as he walks past a vigil for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. Picture: Kathryn Younger/PA Wire Foreign secretary Boris Johnson waves as he walks past a vigil for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. Picture: Kathryn Younger/PA Wire

She told this newspaper: We have had meetings with the foreign secretary, but Boris doesn’t seem to have made a difference. The fact is that she is still being held.

“That’s the reason that we want the next step to be the Prime Minister sitting down with Richard and I.

“If we can give the Prime Minister the humanitarian angle she will realise what’s at stake for Nazanin.

“I just remember being outside of the Iranian embassy two years ago and at the time we would never have thought we’d would have to be here now.”

Tulip Siddiq MP and Richard Ratcliffe at the protest on Monday. Picture: Linda Grove Tulip Siddiq MP and Richard Ratcliffe at the protest on Monday. Picture: Linda Grove

Rebecca Ratcliffe, Nazanin’s sister-in-law, told the Ham&High: “After the hope we experienced at the end of last year, we didn’t really think we would be here. This has been more of a sombre affair than at Gabriella’s last birthdays.

“We are a little bit disillusioned with the lack of help from the government.”

Daren Nair, an activist from Amnesty International, added: “Her Majesty’s government must do a lot more to protect British nationals like Nazanin overseas, especially in Iran.”

The Foreign Office has been contacted for comment.

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