Petition update

Day 2,086 #FreeNazanin - Naz Don’t Cry

Richard Ratcliffe
London, United Kingdom

Dec 18, 2021 — 

There are many unexpected acts of kindness to catch up on. It has perhaps taken me longer to recover my bearings after the hunger strike and share where it feels we are.

But one of them cannot wait. This week we launched a charity record with the help of a band called the Christians, entitled ‘Naz don’t cry.’ We are trying to get it up the Christmas charts.

Gabriella and I spent a happy day up in Liverpool with the band a couple of weeks back, immersed in all its musical heritage. She spent much of the day banging out her feelings on the drums, I spent it trying forlornly to stay in tune. Nazanin got to speak to the band.

They made something beautiful, a song our family are proud to be part of. And a video of struggle, but also of the power of holding on.

The song echoes an earlier generation of hostages. It was originally written for John McCarthy, then held in Lebanon, and Jill Morrell, who battled for him. It was a testimony to the power of the love outside.

Rewritten for Nazanin, it is still a song about hope, and the power of holding on. But also a reminder in their story for us to look beyond the clouds at some other rainbows, and remember that this storm will eventually pass.

This has been timely, as we navigate our 6th Christmas apart.

After the hunger strike, one of our family is taking Christmas very seriously. Our house is now full of lights, and detailed lists for red-coated visitors. It is far from that world of cold, angry tents, as it should be when you’re 7. After all the disruption and tensions of my hunger strike, it feels especially important that this year we celebrate.

For Nazanin, our celebration is double edged. Landmarks are often the hardest, the time most felt when she is not here. On Boxing Day, she is another year older. Another year passes, another chance to ask herself when will this end? While those in power get on with their lives, hers remains on hold.

In some ways, we are further back than we were last Christmas.

A year ago we were counting down to the end of her sentence with the government giving us hopeful updates and timelines. A year on, and it feels we are now in open sea, with threats in the air. This Christmas feels an inflexion point. Either the peak of winter breaks soon, or those storms around us coalesce, and we really do have to go through the whole cycle all again.

We reached out to the Prime Minister asking him to speak to Nazanin on her birthday. He was not available. His office did not explain why. Your 3.7 million signatures that we delivered to him during the hunger strike, did not get a personal response this week either, only an acknowledgement from a junior minister. The PM is keeping his distance again, not a good sign.

So this week the song has been a welcome reminder in our family of the power of care, something positive for our campaign to rally around. For all my rough words on the government’s doorstep last month, holding on for better times is often the most important thing - for all of us to keep home alive. The song puts it well: “We only hope she knows that there are people here who care.”

So if you are still willing to help after 6 years of petitions, please do consider downloading the song and sharing the video:

For those in the UK and beyond, still looking for a last minute Christmas gift, the deadline for downloads for the Christmas charts is 23:59 GMT Thursday December 23. Generally, it takes 8,000 sales in a week to get into the official charts, and ten times that to get close to the top.

Intently watching a song bob around the charts is not usually something that matters to middle aged auditors, nor for that matter government stand offs over hostages and debts.

But like the number of signatures on this petition that gave my in-laws hope in the darkest of times, chart position is a way of signalling this issue matters, it is a way of making care visible to those in power. It helps keep the government focused as it bounces between stories: that it is their first job to protect their citizens, whatever other politics or job auditions seem to be going on. The higher up the charts, the clearer the reminder to the Prime Minister: he cannot keep avoiding this issue.

It also happens to raise money for a good cause.

All the funds raised go to Redress, the human rights group who help us in our work with other hostage families. They also help lots of torture victims much less well known than us. The song makes a difference to many others who don’t get seen, and are at risk because of it.

So thank you for your part in any download, for sending hope to us and others this Christmas. This year we all need a bit of hope perching on our soul.

Merry Christmas to you all. I hope it is a happy holiday – and a happier 2022 – for us all.


P.S. For those near London, we do still have this year’s carols in front of Downing Street, on Monday 20 December, 17.30 - 19.00, which we will hold outdoors again with other families of those held overseas.

Covid meant that we weren’t able to hold it last year. So far we are still going ahead, but will update on the Facebook invite if that changes.

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