Petition update

Day 353 #FreeNazanin – One Day

Richard Ratcliffe
London, United Kingdom

Mar 22, 2017 — It’s Nowruz, the start of Spring. Happy Iranian New Year to you all.

New year in Iran is a time for a fresh start, with the clocks reset. The embers of the old year replaced by the spark of the new. It is a family celebration full of wishes of health and renewal for new days ahead.

For us, it was last Nowruz that Nazanin went to Iran to visit her family. We approach the anniversary of her capture. This past year has been a life on hold.

To mark that anniversary, I want to ask for your help.

When I was a boy, I remember vividly watching Brian Keenan’s release from captivity in Lebanon. Those first words I now understand with quite different eyes:
“I’m going to visit every country in the world, eat all the food of the world, drink all the drink of the world, and I hope make love to every woman in the world. Then I might get a good night’s sleep.”

The part that caught my attention as an adolescent is obvious. He brought home what being denied your life would feel like. Now it exactly feels like we have a life to catch up.

But these days I also understand better the importance of that last sentence – the yearning for a good night’s sleep. That reaffirmation that life is for living, not for feeling bitter about.

Of course one cannot magic away the scars of injustice. Campaigning is absorbed by them, by e.g. the fact there is still no word on hospital admission. I am angry now. There will be anger to come. We will not just get over the tough times. It would be a false piety to pretend.

But in the midst of campaigning, it also matters the road ahead, the hopes for future days of freedom, ice creams in the park, holding on to the maybes. One day soon it will be time to heal, time to rediscover being normal, to learn to live adventurously, to catch up on the world again. That will be our redemption.

And that is where you come in.

For Nazanin's anniversary we are going to do 3 things:

First, I’d like your ideas: If you had one day of freedom – what would you do?

What would you do if you had one day to enjoy and catch up with living again? What kind of things you do when looking to cheer yourself up, or to be whole? What adventures can your children suggest?

I’m not looking for grand ideas, but ordinary ones – what you cherish to do for a day? I’d like you to share your suggestions post them below, so Nazanin can read them one day.

Second, on April 2nd (Nazanin’s anniversary eve) until Easter, we will be tying these messages with yellow ribbons like a gift tag on a “one day tree” in our local park in West Hampstead.

For those of you far away, we would hope you could tie your one day suggestions with ribbons to a tree near you, and to take a picture of it and post it on our Facebook page. Yellow or any colour ribbon is welcome, as a reminder there are many colours in the world.

Families of other prisoners have offered to tie a ribbon and write their hopes on a tree near their own homes. Amnesty are doing a one day tree at their AGM. Nazanin is asking her cellmates, so we can also hang up their one day dreams.

Third, afterwards we hope to have a digital collection of ideas and pictures to show Nazanin. It will be there to discover one day when she and the others come out, a collection of hopes and ideas for actually trying out when released.

We will collect them into a homemade book to send to Nazanin’s family, ready for whenever that day comes. There was a fashion for books called ‘50 things to do before you die’. The book I would like to build with you is a recipe book of things to learn again to live.

Most of our campaign is focused on the day of freedom. I focus, Nazanin’s letter focused, on that moment of reunion, the one day when we are finally together. But it is not that one day that needs our imagination. It is the long days after.

Getting beyond imprisonment will be a long road - overcoming the legacy of disorientation and stress, the debilitation of lies. It will need time to rediscover faith in the world, to recover after solitary the ability to choose, to open out and enjoy normal things. We will need your signposts to make sure this is only a comma in our lives, does not become a full stop.

There are many comments on the petition – wondering how any of us can contribute? Our family have many moments of powerlessness from the outside. I don’t understand what Nazanin has been through, the way her cellmates do I never will. Telling our story may help (it does me), but it will be hard for her to share what we cannot understand.

So I wanted to ask for this extra contribution, not just in listening, but for your help in rehabilitating.

Don’t feel sad for us this anniversary – but please lend us your enthusiasms on this petition and on trees, your ‘happy to be alive’ days, your ideas for the one days to come, that will bring that good night’s sleep.

In the end, it will not be anger or sympathy we need, but renewal. For all of us, that is the prize of Spring.

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