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Opinion: Join fight for freedom and don't let injustice 'wreck the lives of innocent people'

PUBLISHED: 15:28 24 June 2019 | UPDATED: 09:06 25 June 2019

Jessica Learmond-Criqui is asking for support to show Richard Ratcliffe his hunger strike is supported. Picture: POLLY HANCOCK

Jessica Learmond-Criqui is asking for support to show Richard Ratcliffe his hunger strike is supported. Picture: POLLY HANCOCK

Archant

The plight of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, her husband Richard and their daughter Gabriella has horrified humans all around the world.

Nazanin started a hunger strike on Saturday, June 15, 2019 and was joined by Richard who is hunger striking in solidarity with her. Nazanin wants "unconditional release". Richard wants her release, the British Embassy to check on her health immediately and if no release, a visa to go to Iran.

Where does the public realm of disputes between nation states and the private realm of family relationships coincide? It is in precisely in the case of Nazanin where they intertwine. Nazanin has been the 40th dual British/Iranian citizen to be imprisoned by Iran. It is now known that her imprisonment is because the UK owes Iran money since the 1960s.

An innocent British woman is now in prison in an autocratic nation state because the UK won't pay its debts. To be fair, the UK states that it can't pay its debts because it has to comply with US sanctions against Iran. The impact of this impasse is that the Iranian government will keep imprisoning dual nationals where they find them and the British government will let Nazanin rot in prison while it contemplates its navel.

Well, now there are two British nationals on hunger strike - a family ripped apart because of a commercial dispute at nation state level. Our government is duty bound to protect its citizens and patently is failing to do so. Nazanin is not a second class citizen merely because she is also a national of Iran.

And sure, Iran has taken advantage of Boris's gaffe regarding Nazanin visiting Iran to train journalists to make the public interface of its actions more palatable. But, it was his error and his alone. Iran's actions remain reprehensible and while pointing a finger at Boris does not let them off the hook, it is clear that he did make the sting more painful.

Nazanin is a member of our community. She and her husband lived happily in West Hampstead with Gabriella (now five). Going on hunger strike is not an action to take lightly and it is life threatening. But it is the only control Nazanin and Richard have over their lives right now, as that control has been usurped by two disputing nations. Two titans are fighting and they suffer.

We as humans, have some control over how we interact with these forces. And, we should not stand quietly by while this injustice is allowed to wreck the lives of innocent people. Foreign affairs has come to our doorstep. Let's not feel powerless, look away and go about our normal business.

We can march, write letters, visit who we can, do what we can, where we are, in the time that we have.

NW3, the Ratcliffes need our support. Let's show them that we care.

You may also want to watch:

- Visit Richard if you can

- Write to our current PM

- Write to Jeremy Hunt, the current Foreign Secretary, urging him to bring Nazanin and Gabriella home

- Don't vote for Boris Johnson as the new leader of the Conservative party - he is unrepentant of his error

- Write to the "The Tent Outside" - Richard has been receiving letters and cards in the post from well wishers. In a style reminiscent of the Harry Potter series using "The Tent Outside" rather than "Cupboard Under the Stairs", they are addressed to:

Richard Ratcliffe

The Tent Outside

c/o The Embassy of Iran

16 Princes Gate

London SW7 1PT

Send him a note which with greater numbers, your support may spark a butterfly effect which could see Nazanin and Gabriella come home soon.

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