‘A step into the unknown’: Richard Ratcliffe stoic as he and Nazanin both begin hunger strikes
PUBLISHED: 20:25 15 June 2019 | UPDATED: 20:25 15 June 2019
© Joshua Thurston - All Rights Reserved
“It’s a step into the unknown. I have no idea how things will go.”
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe began her second hunger strike today, and as Richard Ratcliffe joined her and prepared to spend the night camped in front of the Iranian embassy in Knightsbridge, he was braced for a difficult week. He will be staying in a chair outside of the embassy until the strike is over or he is physically unable to.
Nazanin has now been imprisoned in Iran for 1,1169 days, and having begun his strike in solidarity with her, Richard told the Ham&High: "And we don't know what the reaction will be, either. We'll just see what it's like in five days time.
"I think she's worried about me. In some ways it's 'we're stronger together', and in some ways she's very worried."
The hunger strike began after a number of Nazanin's family and friends joined Richard at the embassy to mark the couple's daughter Gabriella's birthday - she turned five on Tuesday.
Family and friends displayed a chain of knitted links in honour of Nazanin, before singing Happy Birthday to Gabriella.
Richard explained that test results from checks to Nazanin's breasts and neck had been largely positive - the lumps on her breasts are thought to be benign.
But her mental health has suffered further.
Richard added: "That's what the doctors have said means she really should be in hospital."
He said Nazanin was pretty calm on the phone this morning, and he had also spoken to Jeremy Hunt about the situation in the morning.
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The would-be Prime Minister had told him there had been little movement on Nazanin's case.
Mr Hunt tweeted today: "As Richard continues his campaign for Nazanin's release at the Iranian embassy, my message to Iran: DO THE RIGHT THING, SHOW THE WORLD YOUR HUMANITY & LET THIS INNOCENT WOMAN HOME."
Richard is expecting the strike to last most of the week.
Richard has demanded three things - Nazanin's immediate release, for there to be an immediate visit to Nazanin by the British Embassy to check on her health, and if no release is granted to her in the next few weeks, a visa for him to go to Iran.
Nazanin herself has only one demand: unconditional release.
Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK's director, said: "This is a truly heartbreaking situation.
"Nazanin has already been through so much, while her tireless husband Richard has strained every sinew to get Nazanin out of jail and back to the UK where she belongs.
"Nazanin is a prisoner of conscience, unfairly jailed after a sham trial and subjected to all manner of torments - including months in solitary conferment and endless game-playing over whether she would receive vital medical care.
"It's shocking that it's come to this, and we and countless people across the county fervently hope the Iranian authorities will now finally do the right thing and release Nazanin."
The plan is that Richard will be accompanied by a member of friends and family overnight each day.
Tomorrow, a candlelit vigil is planned for about 8.30pm.