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Day 235 #FreeNazanin - The Power of the Pen

Richard Ratcliffe
London, United Kingdom

Nov 25, 2016 — The stakes raised this week with everything going on – with Nazanin’s deteriorating conditions, and the revelations about the government’s unpaid debt. I have the strong sense this can no longer wait for the government’s pace.

I have had a lot of requests this week from people wanting to do something. Which is not to say that it is not already a very big something that you do by 837,000 people following our story. Your witness, your care is what gives power to my pen.

It is what gives us hope. My friends can testify how poor I am at responding to messages. But my family and I read your comments closely, are kept stronger by them.

But what was also clear this week from Nazanin's conditions is that my media campaigning has not yet been enough. Nazanin hasn’t been able to feel it. Nor perhaps have the authorities sufficiently.

So I’d like to harness the power of your pens - I have a number of requests in the run up to Christmas:

Request 1 – Write for Rights Letters
Earlier this month, Amnesty International launched their annual Write for Rights campaign, which asks Amnesty groups and the wider public to write letters to a number of prisoners of conscience and to the authorities holding them.

Nazanin is one of the prisoners featured by Amnesty in this year’s campaign. It asks people to write to Nazanin directly at Evin Prison to let her know she is not forgotten. We are also asking people to write to the Iranian authorities asking them to see sense:

A couple of weeks ago I spoke at the Write for Rights launch – and got to hear some of last year’s prisoners talk profoundly of the importance that letters gave to their self-worth, to be reminded that the world outside your window cares, when those inside try to make you forget it. Last week I asked Nazanin’s guards if any letters had yet arrived. They promised to look out for them to deliver to her.

Request 2 – Children’s Postcards – Far From Home
From December we are doing a travelling children’s postcard competition for Nazanin and Gabriella, called ‘Far from Home’. The children’s postcards will be organised into a travelling exhibition, alongside some Write for Rights materials on Nazanin’s and other cases, that will move each week until ending up in Nazanin’s and Gabriella’s local church in West Hampstead.

We would like your children to draw postcard sized pictures on the theme ‘Far from Home.’ We’d like the postcards to be A6 size (i.e. normal postcard size), and colourful. We would like them to draw what home means to them, what they would miss about home if they were far away, what they like to think about when they are away from home, or what they like about coming home The competition is open for 5-15 year olds.

After the exhibition is complete, we will deliver the postcards to Nazanin’s family for them to be able to show her. So messages for her and Gabriella on the back are also welcome.

Please send as soon as possible but we will continue to add cards each week until we take them to Iran.

Please send your children’s postcards to:
Far From Home children’s postcard competition
c/o Individuals at Risk section
Amnesty International UK
Human Rights Action Centre
17-25 New Inn Yard
London EC2A 3EA

Request 3 – MPs Letter and Early Day Motion
Last month we presented a letter to the Foreign Office with the signatures of 117 MPs and Peers (more have signed since), calling on the government to do more for Nazanin and for two other British Iranians held on similarly arbitrary charges without any government criticism, Kamal Foroughi and Roya Nobakht. We presented by Kamran Foroughi (the son of Grandpa Kamal) and me, alongside our MPs, Oliver Dowden and Tulip Siddiq ,and the Director of Amnesty UK, Kate Allen.

We are continuing to collect signatures for this letter – we are looking to present it again if we can manage to get to half the MPs to sign it.

If you want to check whether your MP has signed, the list of those who have already have signed can be found here:

For those of you whose MPs have not yet signed the letter, we’d like you to write to them, or even if possible to visit their surgery face to face, to ask them to sign the letter. If we can get there together, we hope to present it again in December.

Similarly, thanks to the efforts of Tom Brake MP, who has been a beacon on British prisoners in Iran, there is also an Early Day Motion (which is a formal motion submitted for debate in the House of Commons) expressing support for Nazanin and Kamal and calling on the government to demand their release.
Similarly, we would like you to ask your MPs to sign it.

Request 4 – Standing Fast
The final request is not one with a pen – but a different kind of statement.

Nazanin taught me this week, as I’ve understood her impact through the responses in interviews, that sometimes it is the simplest protests that are the most powerful.

If we are still going into December we will start organising hunger protests – inviting people to join us for days of fasting outside the Iranian Embassy.

Our own kind of standing fast – details will follow.

I remain eternally grateful for your care.

Keep fighting for people power!

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