Open letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader calling for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release

Nazanin and daughter Gabriella Ratcliffe at Christmas last year

Nazanin and daughter Gabriella Ratcliffe at Christmas last year - Credit: Archant

Read a Hampstead resident’s letter which will be delivered to Downing Street and the Foreign Office by Hampstead parents today to reach the Grand Ayatollah

An open letter to His Excellency Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei,

Your Excellency,

I am writing to you to bring a particular matter to your attention and would ask for your intervention in the name of truth and justice to secure the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her safe return to the UK with her daughter.

By way of background, I live in a community in Hampstead, North West London, England. Nazanin is a member of our community. She is of Iranian birth and a dual national with Iranian and British passports.

Nazanin was arrested by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards on April 3, 2016 at Imam Khomeini Airport as she was returning to Britain with her daughter Gabriella, 2, after a holiday to visit relations. She has been detained since then and is now in Evin prison serving a five-year sentence for secret crimes.

Her husband has been fighting for her release and tried, so far unsuccessfully, to engage the British government to help her. He has reason to believe that she is being held because she is a bargaining chip in a dispute over £400million owed by the British government to Iran regarding an arms deal in the 1970s.

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In writing to you, I do not seek to bypass your President Rouhani. But, the ultimate decision rests with you, as Iran’s supreme leader.

In your letter to the youth of Europe and North America, you counselled our young people that their politicians and statesmen had separated the route of politics from the path of righteousness and truth. Nazinin is a good woman, mother and wife and has done nothing to warrant her incarceration. Is it not right and just to release her from this painful existence under those principles of righteousness and truth?

The rise of the fear of the “other” in Western discourse, particularly against the generic description of Muslims, is distasteful to many in the West. But, does the treatment of one of your own who has adopted our country as her home not fuel this fear?

In your opinion on women’s issues on your website, I was immediately drawn to the following views:

*Women’s health, security, tranquillity and respect should be ensured in the family

*Oppressing women still exists in the so-called civilized societies

*Women’s oppression should come to an end in all aspects

*Men and women are equal in human and civil rights

Could these principles not be applied in Nazanin’s case? Nazanin’s only error was to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Does this continued humiliation of her and her separation from her family embody the principles of justice under the teachings of Islam as you have articulated them?

Nazanin may soon be taken by God as she is desperately not well. The bargaining chip will be no more and her unjust treatment will resonate for years in our community.

I have encouraged my community to make a wish for Nazanin’s release before our traditional holiday season of Christmas on December 25. It is in your hands that this wish can be granted and I would prevail upon you as the thought leader in Iran to encourage your countrymen to act justly and rightly in relation to this young woman. Iran’s beef with the British government over an unpaid debt is one matter but Nazanin’s life should not be sacrificed over it.

One final thing – Nazanin is ill and needs medical attention which she does not seem to be receiving. I would invite you to permit her immediate medical assistance to ensure that she is well.

In conclusion, I believe that justice will defeat injustice and that peace in our lifetime around the world can be achieved despite our differences. As your president recently stated, “there is no doubt that the Almighty will assist all those who endeavour towards peace, justice and moderation”.

We all look forward to your swift and decisive decision in this matter.