Birthday party protest for toddler held in Iran without her parents
PUBLISHED: 12:10 09 June 2016 | UPDATED: 12:10 09 June 2016
Families around Hampstead are being invited to a party to celebrate the second birthday of a West Hampstead toddler who is being held hostage in Iran without her parents.
Dad Richard Ratcliffe is throwing a second birthday party for Gabriella outside the Iranian Embassy in Hyde Park tomorrow.
The picnic party with games, cake and songs is being planned to bring attention to her plight.
As reported by the Ham&High, Mr Ratcliffe, 41, of Fortune Green Road, has been separated from Gabriella and his wife Nazanin since April 3 when they were seized by security forces at Tehran’s main airport as they arrived for a flight home after a visiting relatives.
Nazanin, 37, who has dual British and Iranian citizenship, is being held in jail without charge apart from Gabriella, whose British passport was seized.
The toddler, who turns two on Saturday, is being looked after by her grandparents in Iran.
The party follows a birthday card campaign where thousands of people have been sending her birthday cards via Iranian Embassies.
Before the party Mr Ratcliffe and supporters will present a large card for Gabriella and sing songs outside the Iranian embassy.
He said: “I am overwhelmed by the public outcry about my baby daughter’s birthday.
“It has been really moving for my family here to see the kindness of people. In my bones, I feel it is that kindness that will in the end bring them home.”
The Ham&High joined Mr Ratcliffe three weeks ago when he presented a petition to Downing Street with more than half a million signatures calling on the government to do more to help secure their release.
The Government has still not responded to the petition, which now has 760,000 signatures.
Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq, who will also attend the party tomorrow with her eight-week-old baby, has called for an urgent meeting with Mr Cameron to ask him to intervene personally in Nazanin’s case, as he has done for other families.
In an emotional post on the petition website, Mr Ratcliffe writes: “I get asked a lot in interviews to talk about how I’m feeling (not my strongest point according to Nazanin). At the beginning, it was particularly hard to describe, having spent the month before trying not to feel. Now the answer is much better – now I am doing things to provoke some urgency into Nazanin’s and Gabriella’s situation as it enters its third month. Easier than the erratic sleeping and worrying.
“There’s no way of knowing whether it’s working given how unclear everything remains. But doing things is more than a way of keeping hopeful. It actively feeds that hope. It has mobilised a wide support network of family and friends, drawn out the kindness of strangers which I now encounter in so many ways, and it has given us this online community that I can one day show Nazanin.”
Mr Ratcliffe is concerned about his wife’s condition in jail, where she has no access to a lawyer and has only been allowed one visit from daughter Gabriella.
To join the protest, gather outside the Iranian embassy in Princes Gate, London SW7 at 12:45pm.