Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 21 May 2019

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe suspends hunger strike

Prison authorities allowed British-Iranian dual national and an Iranian human rights activist to resume medical treatment

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her daughter Gabriella. Free Nazanin campaign
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her daughter Gabriella. Free Nazanin campaign

UK-Iranian dual national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Narges Mohammadi, a leading Iranian human rights activist, suspended their hunger strike after prison authorities allowed them to resume medical treatment externally, her husband said Wednesday.

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 40, was arrested in April 2016 as she was leaving Iran after taking her infant daughter to visit her family and was sentenced to five years for allegedly trying to topple the Iranian government.

She began the hunger strike on Monday along with Ms Mohammadi, who was arrested in 2015 and jailed for 10 years for “forming and managing an illegal group”.

“Nazanin and Narges have ended their hunger strike today and have not extended it beyond the original three days,” Richard Ratcliffe said in a statement.

“We welcome confirmation from the prison authorities that they will be allowed to resume treatment at outside hospitals where they had both been previously treated,” he said.

Earlier, UN human rights experts had called on Iran to give urgently needed healthcare to Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, adding that the regime’s treatment of the jailed charity worker could amount to torture.

“We urge the Government to immediately and unconditionally provide Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Narges Mohammadi with access to the appropriate treatment and care they have repeatedly requested in light of their serious health concerns,” the experts said in a statement on Wednesday.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who is accused of espionage by Iran, had been denied a mammogram despite finding lumps in her breast. She has also experienced numbness in her arms and legs, her husband Richard Ratcliffe said.

Ms Mohammadi is suffering from pulmonary embolism, blood clots and seizures. She has been denied health care for more than a year, according to people familiar with her situation.

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“The authorities must urgently address the violations that are the basis of their hunger strike protest, including denial of appropriate treatment and care, which may well amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, or even torture,” the experts said.

The statement’s six signatories included Javaid Rehman, the UN expert on human rights in Iran and Nils Melzer, expert on torture.

Meanwhile, Hamid Baeidinejad, the Iranian ambassador to Britain, hit out at the publicity campaign being run on his wife’s behalf by Mr Ratcliffe, calling it “ill-advised” and saying that it was ”causing chaos and complications” which were hindering her possible early release.

“We really hope that we can help her from a humanitarian ground and find quick solutions in a way that clemency will be granted,” Mr Baeidinejad said.

“Unfortunately in this situation now, when there are always agitations, issues in the media and politicisation of the media, I am concerned that this would not be a situation leading to that conclusion.”

Updated: January 17, 2019 04:09 AM

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