HUMAN RIGHTS: Two families come together to hold vigil for their loved ones jailed in Iran
The families of Nazanin Ratcliffe and Kamal Foroughi were joined by supporters for a vigil outside Downing Street last night (June 28).
Candles-lit up a corner of the street as friends, family and supporters huddled under umbrellas in the evening drizzle for prayers, readings and sharing memories. About 150 turned up for the two-hour event.
Nazanin, who has dual British-Iranian nationality has been imprisoned for 87 days on a charge of trying to “overthrow the Islamic regime”. She was detained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard on 3 April at an airport as she tried to return to the UK.
The 37-year-old is being held in the notorious Evin prison in Tehran – the same prison British-Iranian Ghoncheh Ghavami was held in 2014 after she was arrested for attending a volleyball match. Nazanin was separated from her daughter Gabriella who is staying with her grandparents in Iran.
Nazanin’s husband Richard said: ‘We came to do a candle-lit vigil in front of Downing Street to mark the number of days Nazanin and Gabriella have been stuck in Iran.
“At the moment it’s also Ramadan so we came to light a candle for Muslims. There were Muslims and non-Muslims amongst us and those who don’t have a faith and we all came together just to offer a hope that there’s a chance that Gabriella and Nazanin could be released.”
The vigil was also organised for Kamal Foroughi, a 76-year-old Brit who has been held for five years on spying charges. He was sentenced in 2013 to a total of eight years’ imprisonment, which he is still serving in Evin. It remains unclear what evidence Iran convicted him on. Yesterday marked 1,882 days he has spent in prison.
Iran’s intelligence often views dual nationals with suspicion and has arrested a number of them in recent years, including the Iranian-American journalist Jason Rezaian who was convicted of espionage in a closed-door trial in 2015 and released earlier this year.
Kamal’s son, Kamran told Change.org: “My dad has been in Evin prison for well over five years now. We haven’t seen him in all that time. All his family live in or around London and we all miss him so much.
“We’re very worried about his health and that one day he’ll just collapse and die in prison. There’s no real reason for Iran to hold him any longer. They could let him go at any point.
We’re so grateful for the support. I was stunned by the number of people who turned up to our vigil. Hopefully one day they’ll release him and he’ll be able to join us back home.”
For more information about the Free Nazanin campaign go to change.org/freenazanin and for details about the Free Kamal campaign visit, change.org/freekamalforoughi. Otherwise you can email email@example.com