Tuesday , 28 June 2022

Jailed British-Iranian woman ‘dreams of watching daughter play’

Gurdian – A British-Iranian woman jailed in Tehran for allegedly plotting to topple the government has said she dreams of watching her husband playing with their two-year-old daughter. As the first anniversary of her detention dawned, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe described her wish to see her family dancing to Michael Jackson in in the sitting room of their home.

The 38-year-old was arrested at Tehran airport on 3 April 2016 while visiting relatives in Iran with her daughter, Gabriella. She was imprisoned for five years in September and lost an appeal against her sentence in January, but maintains her innocence. Her husband, Richard, said it had been a “long year of separation, a year of our lives interrupted”.

Although Zaghari-Ratcliffe has not been told the charges of which she was convicted, media reports in Iran say she is accused of being “one of the chief members of networks of adversary institutions, who – with the direction and support of foreign media and espionage services – has committed her criminal acts over the past few years”.

However, her family said that she works for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, which does not operate any charity projects in the country.

The charity worker’s daughter, Gabriella, remains stranded in Iran, cut off from her British father, after Iranian officials confiscated the child’s British passport. The toddler is currently being cared for by her maternal grandparents.

On Sunday – 365 days since her arrest – family and friends gathered at Fortune Green close to Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s home in Hampstead, north-west London. Supporters tied yellow ribbons to a tree in the park along with quotes from prisoners at Evin jail in Iran, where Zaghari-Ratcliffe is being held, describing what they would do with one day of freedom.

Richard Ratcliffe ties ribbons and messages of support to a tree at Fortune Green to mark 365 days since Nazanin was arrested. Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PAZaghari-Ratcliffe’s wish reads: “My fondest dream has always been to arrive at our home. You ask me if I want to have a cup of tea, then make me one. I just sit back and watch you two play. This is the image I had most when in solitary confinement. How I wish I could watch you both dance in the middle of our sitting room to the Michael Jackson music – like when Gabriella was only tiny.”

She also said she would like to “put a huge paper on the wall” and “draw a world in which there are no prisons, walls or fences – and let Gabriella do the colouring”. Her husband described the morning as a “nice, positive” event, and said: “We’re keeping an eye on the future, and one day this will be finished.”

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