The husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is urging the British Government to “shake off the complacency of their holiday heads” as his wife enters 2020 on hunger strike.
Richard Ratcliffe’s wife has already undertaken one hunger strike in solidarity with British-Australian woman Kylie Moore-Gilbert, and started another before New Year’s Eve.
Ms Moore-Gilbert, a Cambridge-educated British-Australian academic who was most recently a lecturer in Islamic Studies at Melbourne University, has been in Tehran’s Evin prison for more than a year, having reportedly been given a 10-year sentence.
She is said to have been on hunger strike since Christmas Eve along with another jailed woman, French-Iranian academic Dr Fariba Adelkhah.
Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been in prison in Iran since April 2016 after she was sentenced to five years in jail on charges of spying – accusations she has always denied.
Mr Ratcliffe, whose sister Rebecca is a GP in Cwmbran, told The Guardian: “Five days on dry hunger strike is becoming critical, and our thoughts go out to Kylie and her family for all this ordeal.”
He added: “I hope the Australian and British governments also step up today and shake off the complacency of their holiday heads. It is one thing for the Iranian regime to hold innocent people hostage, it is quite another to let them die.”
In an open letter published by supporters and confirmed by the Centre for International Research at Sciences-Po where Dr Adelkhah works, Ms Moore-Gilbert and Dr Adelkhah said: “We will strike on behalf of all academics and researchers across Iran and the Middle East, who like us have been unjustly imprisoned on trumped up charges and simply doing their job as researchers.
“We have been subjected to psychological torture and numerous violations of our basic human rights.”
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi said Ms Moore-Gilbert, who holds dual British and Australian citizenship, was being afforded her legal rights.
He said: “She has been arrested on a charge of violating Iran’s national security, and the competent court has also issued the appropriate ruling by observing all relevant laws.
“Experience has shown that the Islamic Republic of Iran would not give in to the political and smear campaigns, and this Australian citizen is serving her sentence while enjoying all legal rights, like any other convict with a judicial verdict.”
The University of Melbourne’s website lists Dr Moore-Gilbert on its “Find an expert” page as a lecturer at the university’s Asia Institute.
It says she “specialises in Middle Eastern politics, with a particular focus on the Arab Gulf states”, and that she had published work on the 2011 Arab uprisings, authoritarian governance and on the role of new media technologies in political activism.
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