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Tulip Siddiq highlights ‘torture’ of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in Iranian prison

PUBLISHED: 15:59 02 March 2017 | UPDATED: 16:04 02 March 2017

Tulip Siddiq in Parliament

Tulip Siddiq in Parliament

Archant

Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq has called on Theresa May to “show compassion” and “do something” to free West Hampstead mum Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe from Iranian prison.

Nazanin with her husband Richard and daughter GabriellaNazanin with her husband Richard and daughter Gabriella

The 38-year-old has been held in the Islamic theocracy with her daughter Gabriella, two, since April last year – under conditions Ms Siddiq said qualified as torture.

In a discussion this afternoon about International Women’s Day (to be celebrated on Wednesday), Ms Siddiq told Parliament everyone should be “shouting loudly” to have Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe reunited with her family.

She said she wished to focus on Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe – “a British citizen, a charity worker, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a wife” – because she is her constituent, adding: “She lives ten minutes down the road from me in West Hampstead – her life was not very different from mine.”

That was, Ms Siddiq said, until she went on holiday to visit her parents, when she was arrested and given a five-year prison sentence on “trumped-up charges”.

She spoke also of her worsening health, explaining that last week she “could not physically make it” to a prison clinic and “collapsed”.

“When she came around many hours later, she could not speak for hours on end,” she said.

“Doctors at the hospital in Iran have said she needs treatment immediately in order to prevent long-term damage.”

Lack of legal representation and lack of access to family “actually fits in with the UN’s criteria for torture”, she added.

Ms Siddiq also stressed the need to look beyond national boundaries and take up the burden of criticising the bad behaviour of foreign countries.

She said: “We need to look at our prisons as well and our female prisoners, but that does not mean we should be shutting our eyes to abuse that goes on in other countries,” adding that Iran has signed the Bangkok Rules on treatment of female prisoners but “flouted” them at every stage.

The MP then appealed directly to Theresa May, saying: “I am a female member of Parliament. And I’m asking another female member of Parliament – the prime minister – to do something to release Nazanin and bring her back to West Hampstead.

“The prime minister said that she wanted to be a compassionate leader. If there’s ever a time to show compassion, this is it.”

She also added that Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has “repeatedly declined” to meet her about Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

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