Nazanin’s story: A freedom struggle

Howell Production: Nazanin’s Story (Photo: CNP)

People in Cardiff went to watch “Nazanin’s story”, a political play, produced by the Howell Productions staged at the Chapter Art’s Centre in Cardiff. It is based on the true story of Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe and is on a UK wide tour.

Nazanin Ratcliffe, a woman with multiple identities, a million hurdles every second she is in prison and just one story to be told. But one story that echoes what is the bigger problem of political prisoners across the world. A story of a British-Iranian woman separated from her one year old daughter, Gabriella Ratcliffe, when she was returning from her holiday in Iran in April 2016.

To Richard Ratcliffe, she is the wife who has only spoken to him on supervised phone calls from the Iranian jails. To Gabriella Ratcliffe, she is the unfortunate mother who wasn’t around to see her daughter grow up. To the British government she is just another citizen who used to work for the Thomas Reuters’ Foundation Charity. And to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards she is a spy who was trying to overthrow ISIS in her time in Iran.

Nazanin and her family have on multiple occasions  denied all charges of espionage, conspiracy and spying onto the Iranian Government. But the cry for freedom and justice goes unheard in the solitary confinement of a remote jail especially when her family is kept unaware of her physical condition.

Negotiations between the British government and the Ratcliffe family haven’t been entirely productive as Nazanin continues to be behind bars even today. So, what does a helpless husband, a man with no high-profile contacts and riches do when his wife and his daughter are still across the ocean? With his faith in the government crumbling everyday that his wife’s physical and psychological condition is deteriorating, he approaches the media. He reaches out to the common people and starts to tell “Nazanin’s Story” in the hopes of starting a campaign where he could draw the public support which would force the government to resolve the matters. Not all is lost especially when he receives support in the form of a Petition · Free Nazanin Ratcliffe .

Image: Nazanin Ratcliffe

Free Nazanin Ratcliffe (CNP)

But for a family which has weathered the rough days when attempts were made to use Nazanin as a “mere political tool” for resolving the larger diplomatic conflicts, what degree of measure and sympathy is enough to keep them going?

Human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and Redress can only act as a catalyst into ensuring that mass mobilization and awareness among the people could fast-track the case. But for a woman behind the bars who is sedated with injections, forced to sign blank papers and reported of suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, to wake up everyday and inject that strength in her letters to her husband ensuring him that there is always light at the end of the tunnel is an inspiration in itself.

Nazanin Ratcliffe is just an example of the countless unheard voices who may have been subjected to similar if not more gruesome violations of human rights. People who didn’t know about many other Nanazins out there. But even with all the public support, it has not been enough for Nazanin who was supposed to return home in December 2017 after the Iranian Judiciary closed the case. The family is yet to celebrate Christmas, with Nazanin still to return home. Nazanin’s story portrayed by Lily Nissan and produced by Emi Howell will be next staged in Stratford Avon on 24th February 2018.





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