In Brief

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe going on hunger strike in Iranian prison

British-Iranian mother held on spying charges in Tehran says she is being refused access to medical care

Jailed British-Iranian charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has announced that she is to go on hunger strike in protest against being denied medical care.

In a letter written from her cell in Tehran’s Evin Prison and published by Iranian charity Defenders of Human Rights Centre, the mother-of-one said that she will embark on a three-day hunger strike alongside another female prisoner, Iranian physicist and campaigner Narges Mohammadi.

The pair wrote that they were taking the step “in protest to this illegal, inhuman and unlawful behaviour, and to express our concerns for our health and survival at this denial of specialist treatment, despite taking daily medicines”.

The strike will begin on 14 January, and the letter warns that “in the event of the authority’s failure to address these concerns and them further endangering our health, we will take further action”.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been refused medical treatment for lumps in her breasts, neck pains and “numbness in her arms and legs”, her husband told The Guardian. Richard Ratcliffe said she has also been banned from seeing an external psychiatrist.

He claims her requests “are all being personally blocked by the head of Evin clinic, Mr Khani, despite having been approved by the prison doctor”, adds Middle East Eye.

“When she got the lumps in her breast she was very worried, and very low,” Ratcliffe said.

His wife, who turned 40 on Boxing Day, fears “she’s never going to get out, and that she is going to be denied having another baby”, he continued.  

“I think she just feels enough is enough. She certainly feels she has got no choice.”

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, from Hampstead, north London, was arrested at Tehran’s airport in April 2016 following a family visit with her daughter Gabriella, now four, and accused of “plotting to overthrow the Iranian regime”. She has denied all charges. 

Although she is potentially eligible for parole, her requests have been refused repeatedly by Iranian authorities.

Ellie Kennedy, an Amnesty International UK campaigner for individuals at risk, said: “It should obviously never have come to this. The Iranian authorities are entirely responsible for pushing these two unfairly-detained people to take such desperate measures.

“It’s shocking and unforgivable that the Iranian authorities can callously force prisoners of conscience into starving themselves in protest at their plight, and they should immediately provide full medical care to Nazanin and Narges.”

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