Many constituents have contacted me about the plight of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her husband’s second hunger strike. I spoke in the debate yesterday to urge the UK Government to finally step up and do everything in its power to bring Nazanin home to her loving family.
My Message to Nazanin and Her Family:
I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead and Kilburn (Tulip Siddiq) on securing this important debate and on her hard work so far.
Unjustly convicted, denied basic human rights and tortured—Richard Ratcliffe is rightly desperate as his wife has to undergo this cruel ordeal. It is heartbreaking that, once again, Richard has had to resort to the life-threatening action of a hunger strike. I visited Richard on day 16 of his strike. The pain in his eyes was harrowing. He just wants the Government to act. To go 21 days without food is testament to Richard’s love for his wife and his resolution to get the attention this issue rightly needs. The risks and symptoms of going on the strike are huge. After two weeks, people on hunger strike will have difficulty standing. They suffer severe dizziness, sluggishness and loss of co-ordination. After two or three weeks, it can result in severe neurological problems—vision loss and lack of motor skills. That is the love that Richard has shown for his wife.
Nazanin’s reaction to her husband’s strike brought me to tears at the weekend. She was worried sick about her husband. My heart breaks that this family is caught up in this dispute between two states. I want to address Nazanin directly, if she is able to see this debate. Nazanin, you can see the love and support right across this Parliament. I want to assure you that we, as representatives up and down this country, will not stop until you are free, home and reunited with your family and daughter. I pay tribute to the whole family, who are always there to support Richard, Gabriella and Nazanin. Richard’s sister Rachel lives in Cardiff and is always there for them, always looking for the positive and determined to bring a positive outcome.
Let us be clear: the blame lies firmly at the Prime Minister’s door. He could resolve this issue by paying the debt to Iran, yet he refuses to do so. On Monday, Zac Goldsmith told peers that paying the debt owed by the UK would be seen as payment for a hostage, and would not be in the Government’s interest. Well, Zac, tell that to this family.
Paying a debt is not paying a ransom. It has been ordered by an international court. It is clear this case could have been resolved many months ago. As well as Nazanin, we must not forget Anousheh, Morad and Mehran—we must bring them home too. I hope this debate is a turning point, and that the Government will do everything in their power to bring them home.