Iran Human RightsIran Threatens to Snatch Custody from British Mother unless...

Iran Threatens to Snatch Custody from British Mother unless Her Child Joins her in Evin Prison

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 Iran Focus

London, 23 Dec – A British woman, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a 37-year old charity worker has been held in custody at Evin Prison since being detained by the Revolutionary Guard Corps, is being pressured to take her daughter into prison with her, or give up custody.

A person of dual British-Iranian nationality, Mrs. Zaghari-Ratcliffe was on holiday visit-ing her parents in Tehran. She was arrested at the check-in desks of Imam Khomeini International Airport. Her daughter, Gabriella, was left in the care of her grandparents after the arrest, as the child’s British passport was retained by the authorities, leaving Gabriella trapped in Iran.

Now, Mrs. Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been told that she must chose between taking her two-year old daughter into Tehran’s Evin prison, or sign away her parental rights, her hus-band, Richard Ratcliffe, said in an article by Roland Elephant on December 22 in the Telegraph. “The ultimatum is that Gabriella lives with her three days a week in prison or she signs a paper waiving her rights of custody,” Ratcliffe said, adding that, “She is deeply wary of having Gabriella move into prison partly because prison is horrible, and partly because after a hunger strike she does not have the strength to look after her three days a week.” He was informed about the ultimatum in a phone call with his wife two weeks ago, is not sure if the ultimatum has been enforced.

He said his wife has requested longer visits, either on full day or two half day visits per week.She has been in custody, much of it solitary confinement, since being detained by the Revolutionary Guard Corps on April 3.

Following a conviction on unspecified “national security-related” offences, Mrs. Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was sen-tenced to five years in prison in September after a trial before the Revolutionary Court in Tehran.

Mr. Ratcliffe believes the ultimatum is a response to criticism that Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been separated from her child. Also, “There is a law in Iran that is that a mother prisoner with a child under the age of six must be with the child. They are coming un-der internal pressure for breaking their own laws,” said Mr Ratcliffe.

She was allowed only one hour visits with her daughter each week, but even those visits have occasionally been blocked.

Mr. Ratcliffe says his wife’s physical and mental health has deteriorated since her sen-tencing, and now he is alarmed, as she began a hunger strike in November. In Octo-ber, she wrote a suicide letter.

The Revolutionary Guard has accused her of attempting to orchestrate a “soft over-throw” of the Islamic republic. Her husband says those allegations are untrue. Amnes-ty International, seems to agree, as they consider Mrs. Zaghari-Ratcliffe a prisoner of conscience, and have said Iran is “playing politics” with her case.

Amnesty International UK’s Individuals At Risk Campaign Manager, Kathy Voss said, “The Iranian authorities should release Nazanin and end this cruel charade of justice immediately. Meanwhile up until she’s released, Nazanin should be allowed extended contact with her daughter.”

 

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