National & International

Concern grows for Richard Ratcliffe as hunger strike reaches 17 days

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Fears are growing over the health of Richard Ratcliffe, husband of Iranian detainee Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, as he reached the 17th day of his hunger strike outside the Foreign Office, according to The Guardian.

Some of Mr Ratcliffe’s allies have reportedly urged him to stop the strike, which he started after his wife lost her latest appeal in Iran after first being detained in 2016.

He has said that he is aware of his responsibility to his seven year-old daughter Gabriella, but after almost six years of little to no progress, he is protesting by spending his nights and days in a tent outside the foreign office.

Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, and deputy leader, Angela Rayner, visited Mr Ratcliffe on Tuesday alongside Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq, who has campaigned for Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release since the British-Iranian’s detention in 2016.

Mr Ratcliffe has accused that his wife is being held ‘hostage,’ due to the UK owing a £400 million debt to Iran over a failure to deliver Chieftain tanks ordered by the Shah of Iran before he was overthrown in 1979.

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe is detained over allegations, that she has repeatedly denied, of plotting to overthrow the Tehran government.

She was arrested in 2016 during a holiday visit to show her then-baby daughter Gabriella to her parents.

When asked how more than two weeks without food was affecting him, Mr Ratcliffe said: “It’s definitely getting harder. My family are worried about how long it will go on for.”

“I don’t feel hungry but I do feel the cold more.

“It’s a short-term tactic. You can’t take it too long or you end up in a coma.

“The last time I did 15 days and it took some recovery.

“Now I’m into uncharted territory. It is the first time I know what day 16 feels like. I don’t know how I will feel the next day, or day 17 or 21 or 33.

“It’s a balance between wanting a response from the Government and not putting my family under too much pressure the longer it goes on.

“The Iranian delegate needs to be asked about it (Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s detention). He (the Prime Minister) promised to settle a debt and he hasn’t, and now my wife is being held hostage. He needs to deliver on that promise.

“He needs to take responsibility for that and the consequences of his failings. I think if he does that, she will be protected.”

Image source: Glasgow Times

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