Richard Ratcliffe to end 21-day hunger strike for wife Nazanin

Richard Ratcliffe

Richard Ratcliffe - 1" (CC BY 2.0) by garryknight

Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the detained Iranian-British dual national, is to end his hunger strike after 21 days. The protest will end on Saturday and Ratcliffe has promised his wife he will get a full check-up at hospital when he is done. 

In a tweet on the Free Nazanin Twitter account, he told supporters: “Today I have promised Nazanin to end the hunger strike. Gabriella needs two parents. Thank you all for your overwhelming care these past three weeks. The last event 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.”

The 21-day hunger strike began outside the Foreign Office last month and is the latest attempt by Ratcliffe to force the hand of the government to bring his wife home. Their seven-year-old daughter joined him at a vigil on Friday where supporters gathered in a show of solidarity with Zaghari-Ratcliffe. Allies and friends started to raise concerns for his health amid fears he would do himself permanent damage if he continued. 

Speaking on Thursday 11 November, Ratcliffe said: “ I think there’s a basic medical limit on how long you can do a hunger strike for. I made a promise to Nazanin, I made a promise to my family, Mum in particular, and to the family doctors, that I won’t take it too far. But yeah, I don’t think we walk away with our heads held high feeling like it’s all been sorted.”

Ratcliffe met with the Middle East minister, James Cleverly, this week to discuss his wife, who has been held in Iran since 2016. Ratcliffe said he felt “deflated” adding”If I’m honest, it felt like, you know, perfectly nice, sincere, caring, everyone in the room was caring. But you know we’re still stuck in the same status quo. We’re still stuck in the same problems that led us to end up on hunger strike.”

One of the factors being called for by the hunger strike was that the British government pay a £400m debt to Tehran dating back to the 1970s. The debt is acknowledged as a precondition for the release of Zaghari-Ratcliffe as well as other detainees.

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Written by

Claire Gordon