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'I am a desolate mother': Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe writes open letter lamenting agony of separation from her daughter Gabriella

PUBLISHED: 13:05 03 October 2019 | UPDATED: 13:05 03 October 2019

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with a young Gabriella before Nazanin was arrested in April 2016. Picture: Free Nazanin

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with a young Gabriella before Nazanin was arrested in April 2016. Picture: Free Nazanin

Archant

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has written an emotional letter addressed to the "mums of Iran" in which she responds to news of the US release of Iranian mum Negar Ghodskani and discusses the "daunting" prospect of daughter Gabriella returning to England.

The letter - which appeared on the website of the NGO the Centre for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), is the first solely written by Nazanin to be made public.

In September Ms Ghodskani - who was arrested in Australia and gave birth in prison there before being extradited to the USA - was released by the US authorities.

In her letter, Nazanin writes: "Perhaps brushing your daughter's hair seems such an ordinary part of your everyday routine. For me, these past three and a half years, it has been a dream kept waiting."

The West Hampstead woman, who has been in Evin Prison in Tehran since being goes on to detail how her "heart pounds much more than usual" every Sunday when she is able to see Gabriella - who has lived with her grandparents since Nazanin was arrested while the pair were on holiday in 2016.

Nazanin adds: "Last week another mother was released from prison, whose imprisonment was once connected to mine."

She writes at length about the similarities she finds between her case and that of Ms Ghodskani.

"Negar and I are fellow countrywomen. She had been convicted in a foreign country, whereas I was accused by the country of my birth. I was convicted in an unfair trial, even according to the UN, and was sentenced unfairly to 5 years.

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"I have already been made to endure three quarters of this sentence, despite my begging and tears behind bars, despite my baby being denied her parents across such important years."

Nazanin continues by, for the first time in her own words, discussing Gabriella's expected return to London to begin school.

She writes: "In the near future, my baby will leave me to go to her father and start school in the UK. It will be a daunting trip for her travelling, and for me left behind.

"And the authorities who hold me will watch on, unmoved at the injustice of separation. That first day of school not for me."

Nazanin also laments that Iran "has put me on sale", and that she "is a pawn in the hands of politicians - abroad and in Iran".

She also says: "I am a desolate mother ready to burn like a desert dune when her baby leaves, unable to see any light in this tunnel without end.

"I have no hope or motivation after my baby goes."

Nazanin has been in prison more than 1,250 days. Her family have long discussed Gabriella's return to the UK - and father Richard - but this is the clearest statement Nazanin has yet made anticipating this.

The full letter can be read in full on the CHRI website.

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