An Open Letter to Nazanin Ratcliffe
Update March 8, 2021– it’s been five years since I originally wrote this post. Nazanin served her first sentence and now faces new charges. Gabriella now lives in London with her father, Richard. The world still watches and laments the power plays between Iran and England, using this mother as a pawn. See the video below of many women sharing Nazanin’s poem, A Yard of Sky.
On April 3, 2016, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a 37 year old charity worker, was arrested without formal charges by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard at the airport. She was returning to the UK after a visit with her parents. The passport of her 22 month old daughter, Gabriella, was confiscated. Gabriella is in the custody of her grandparents. Richard Ratcliffe, Nazanin’s husband, is trying all avenues to obtain his wife’s release. She remains in prison.
I am one of the over 800,000 people around the globe who have signed the petition at Change.org requesting your release from prison in Iran. There are countless stories of social injustices and people wrongfully imprisoned. No one person can embrace or follow them all without going mad. However, your story ~ your face, your child, your parents, your husband ~ has become personal to me. It may be because you are near the age of my daughters and your darling Gabriella could be my grandchild. The idea of you wasting away in a prison cell, separated from your toddler and husband, Richard, trapped as a political pawn, hurts my heart.
I’d like to apologize to you, Nazanin. I’m very sorry that as part of the older generation, the one that was supposed to make the place a safer, kinder, more loving place, we have failed miserably. The fact that two countries, in this case Great Britain and Iran, find it acceptable to punish you for their political disagreements, is reprehensible. With all the technological achievements the human race has made in the past decades, we have come no closer healing old grievances. Consequently, your little girl receives no good answers as to why her mother has lost all freedoms. She is barred from seeing her father and can’t go home. The sadness and fears of her grandparents’ situation must be leaving an indelible impression.
And for what? Because Great Britain never paid an old debt to Iran? Or perhaps you are being held as a bit of collateral for a later political deal. The power players may think themselves very clever, but it’s a weary game that nobody ever wins. I’m sorry, Nazanin, that civilization hasn’t broken through old patterns and risen to something smarter, kinder, and compassionate.
But know this, Nazanin. I am praying for you every day. I am one of many. I know you’ve felt like giving up. You’ve even stopped eating, become sick and despondent. Everyday I send you ribbons of energy and color. In my mind’s eye I imagine a different color uplifting you. I hope that on a physical level those colors manifest themselves to you in a tangible form of encouragement.
I even pray for your captors, your guards and handlers. I pray they treat you well and offer you moments of grace. Of course, I include your husband, daughter, and parents in my meditations. They need all the strength they can muster.
This world is really a very small place. Rulers of little countries vying for power is ridiculous from a higher viewpoint ~ like watching one army of ants battle another army of ants on the jungle floor. I pray for the day that small-minded leaders give way to humans of higher intelligence offering positive creative solutions to the self-inflicted problems of the present.
It’s time to say, enough. The old ways have not served us well. Let us find new ways to create a better society for all the inhabitants of Planet Earth.
Until then, I will continue to pray for you, Nazanin. I hope you sense the Light overcoming the Darkness.
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