Richard Ratcliffe flooded with support after ending 21-day ‘Free Nazanin’ hunger strike

Richard Ratcliffe flooded with support after ending 21-day ‘Free Nazanin’ hunger strike

Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of British-Iranian detainee Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has ended his hunger strike after 21 days.

For the past three weeks, Ratcliffe has been protesting outside the Foreign Office in London as part of a campaign to get his wife freed and released from custody in Iran.

This afternoon (13 November), Ratcliffe took to Twitter to announce his hunger strike was coming to an end, he tweeted “Day 21 #FreeNazanin,” along with a photo of himself holding up a sign that reads: “Love is a verb, not a noun. It is a Doing word.

“Thank you, to you all, for what you have DONE for our family. #FREENAZANIN.”

He also explained how he “promised Nazanin to end the hunger strike,” and added that their seven-year-old daughter Gabriella “needs two parents.”

“Thank you all for your overwhelming care these past three weeks.”

The decision was made to end the hunger strike after Ratcliffe consulted with a doctor after getting pains in his feet overnight.

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“We probably hoped we’d get a breakthrough doing this. We haven’t yet. I didn’t want to go out in an ambulance. I want to walk out with my head held high,” Ratcliffe told the PA news agency.

In a follow-up tweet, Ratcliffe added: “The last act of the hunger strike will be our patchwork event in front of the Foreign Office at 13.30 then I will be going to the hospital for a full check-up. Thank you for keeping our family in the light.”

In 2016, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was imprisoned for five years in Iran, accused of plotting to overthrow the government when she travelled to the country to visit her family with her daughter Gabriella.

After spending four years in prison and one year under house arrest, Zaghari-Ratcliffe was then sentenced to another year after her release earlier this year for “spreading propaganda against the regime.”

Since then she has remained on parole at her parent’s home in Tehran, but the fear is that Nazanin could be sent back to prison as a result of this latest sentencing.

During the hunger strike, Ratcliffe has urged the government to pay a £400m debt owed to Iran that dates back to the 1970s for tanks were never delivered to them, and Iranian authorities have implied Zaghari-Ratcliffe will be released if this debt is paid to them.

Iranian delegates arrived in Glasgow at the COP26 climate summit and Ratcliffe had hoped his hunger strike would push Prime Minister Boris Johnson to meet with them to discuss Zaghari-Ratcliffe's situation.

When Ratcliffe announced he was ending the strike, support began to flood in from Twitter commending the 46-year-old’s efforts.

Labour leader, Keir Starmer responded to the news by urging Boris Johnson to take action to bring Nazanin home.

Deputy Labour leader, Angela Rayner echoed this sentiment adding that Johnson “needs to break the habit of a lifetime, show some leadership” to bring Nazanin home.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has urged the Government to “do whatever it takes to end this nightmare and bring Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe home.”

Former Foreign Secretary and Conservative MP, Jeremy Hunt, paid tribute to Ratcliffe and wrote: “we are all humbled by Richard Ratcliffe’s determination and dignity.”

He previously penned an article in The Daily Mail urging the government to “bite the bullet and pay our debts to #FreeNazanin, #FreeAnoosheh, and other innocent Brits held by the barbaric Iranian regime.”

Journalist Kevin Maguire described how Ratcliffe ended his hunger strike “with a concern, grace and humanity sadly absent in the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary.”

Reverend Richard Coles posed the question: “Imagine having to make that promise to your imprisoned wife?” and added how he hopes everything is being done to reunite the family.

Iranian comedian Shaparak Khorsandi sent the Ratcliffe family “love and strength.” She recently wrote an article for The Independent questioning: “What meaning does Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s British passport have if the government won’t help her?”

Another comedian, Dara O’Briain described the family’s situation as “heartbreaking,” and said, “it seems ridiculous and damning of this government that nothing can be done to help this family.”

There were also many more heartwarming messages from the public while berating the Government.

This week, Ratcliffe met with the Middle East minister, James Cleverly to discuss his wife’s situation, following talks between British Government officials and Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Ali Bagheri Kani.

However, Ratcliffe revealed the meeting was “depressing” and left him feeling “deflated,” Evening Standard reported.

“We’re still stuck in the same problems that led us to end up on hunger strike,” he explained.

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