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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and husband Richard’s hunger strike enters second week | UK News

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A week after Richard Ratcliffe went on hunger strike in support of his jailed wife, he says he’s feeling tired but “buoyed up” by the support shown to him.

Dual British Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in Tehran in 2016 as she due to return to the UK from a family holiday with her then 22-month-old daughter Gabriella. She was charged with spying – allegations she vehemently denies.

Last weekend, she began her third hunger strike. In support of his wife, Mr Ratcliffe set up camp outside the Iranian embassy in London and also went on hunger strike, refusing to eat. He has been surviving by drinking only peppermint tea and water.

Richard Ratcliffe
Image:
Richard and Nazanin, before her imprisonment

He said: “I’m tired but not hungry, which I expected to be on hunger strike. You just get slower: slower-witted, slower-moving and short-tempered. And yes probably as the day goes on I get a bit weary. But I’m also buoyed up about how many people are here.

“We’ve had so many people coming along. People who’ve followed the petition for ages and people who knew the story and wanted to come and show solidarity. All that care is energising.

Their daughter, Gabriella
Image:
The couple’s daughter Gabriella

“It’s amazing. It’s been really moving. Some people are here partly to share how much they care and also to share their own stories. It’s just been lovely.”

As we talk to supporters, a postwoman arrives and delivers a bundle of mail to Mr Ratcliffe, addressed to him at his make-shift camp outside the embassy. Every day there have been more and more letters and cards wishing him well.

More from Nazanin Zaghari-ratcliffe

But earlier in the week, the Iranians put up metal barriers on the pavement which Mr Ratcliffe believes was an attempt to intimidate him.

He said: “I think they were trying to drive us off the pavement. I’m not about to be moved away to where they can’t see me. The whole point is they can see me. It’s very deliberate to make the point you should recognise the suffering you produce.”

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe  has been in jail since 2016
Image:
Nazanin has been in jail since 2016

Mr Ratcliffe has a friend or relative with him constantly to monitor his health.

His mother Barbara comes to see him every day. She said: “My primary thing this week and while he does it is watching him like a hawk. And our children and their friends are doing the night-time shift. We’re not going to leave him alone. We’ll do it as long as it takes.”

Mr Ratcliffe said: “I don’t know how long this will go on. I hope it’s not ages longer because it gets harder if I’m honest . Nazanin has demanded to be released. Enough’s enough. We’re waiting to see what the reaction from the prison authorities is. They told her to stop the hunger strike because it will make her look like ‘a naughty prisoner’, but she’s well beyond games like that.”

Mr Ratcliffe says he will continue the fast as long as his wife stays on hunger strike.

He said: “She feels strongly and I feel strongly that we’re both doing it together and she’s not alone and this is one way of demonstrating it. That’s really important when you’re stuck in a prison cell. It gives you a strength and it gives you hope that there is a world outside, and the world is waiting for you.”

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