Tree for jailed West Hampstead mum Nazanin is 'sabotaged'
PUBLISHED: 11:07 21 April 2017 | UPDATED: 11:15 21 April 2017
The husband of a West Hampstead mum being held in an Iranian jail has spoken of his shock after a special tree adorned with yellow ribbons for her was attacked.
Richard Ratcliffe believes the tree has been sabotaged deliberately – possibly for political reasons.
His wife Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has served a year of a five-year prison sentence in Iran - forcing her apart from her two-year-old daughter Gabriella, who is also trapped in Tehran and living with her grandparents.
He said: “This is not random vandalism or people messing around. They came equipped with scissors and cut down ribbons from the main tree, surrounding benches and other trees. The only ribbons left are right at the top where they couldn’t reach. I believe there is a political motive for this.
“It is shocking that this has happened in our park, on our territory. I am really shocked.”
As reported in the Ham&High, on April 3 family friends and supporters decorated the tree, in Fortune Green, with messages of freedom tied with hundreds of yellow ribbons to mark exactly a year since Nazanin and Gabriella were seized at Tehran airport as they tried to return home from a family holiday.
Nazanin has since been sentenced to five years in jail for “plotting against the state” following a secret trial.
Richard has been campaigning tirelessly for her release and in December hundreds of friends and supporters from Hampstead marched to Downing Street to urge the British government to intervene.
Richard noticed that the tree had been attacked on bank holiday Monday as he visited the park near his home – one of Nazanin’s special places.
At first he assumed it was the council parks department who had stripped the tree but they confirmed they had nothing to do with it.
“I was really upset that the positivity of the day had been taken away but also thought that maybe we could get the messages back. We put out an appeal on our Facebook page.
“Now it feels more that the struggle needs to continue – the important thing is to keep the dream alive.
“We have the pictures and will make the book to send to Nazanin’s family. We will continue tying ribbons.”
A petition urging the British government to help free Nazanin has 893,634 signatures.