“Faith is our Survival,” Words from an Iranian Prison

2019 marks the fourth Christmas for Nazanin Radcliffe to languish in an Iranian prison caught in a power struggle between Britain and Iran. This week her husband, Richard, and five-year-old daughter, Gabriella, help vigil outside the British Prime Minister’s residence on Downing Street.

Read the Daily Mail report here.

Nazanin and baby Gabriella were detained at the Tehran International Airport three and a half years ago after a visit with Nazanin’s parents. Though accused of plotting against the Iranian regime, it appears Nazanin is a pawn in a dispute over an old debt from Britain to the Iranian government. Until recently Gabriella lived with her grandparents and visited her mother, when allowed, in prison. Bittersweet moments with Gabriella and occasional long distance phone conversations with Richard have punctuated Nazanin’s months, days, and years of incarceration. Gabriella is now with her father in London. Her mum’s imprisonment will no doubt be a defining theme of her life.

I’ve been praying for Nazanin through the ordeal, hoping for her freedom, and consciously joining others in prayers to mitigate and improve the circumstances of her days. Read and sign the Free Nazanin Ratcliffe Petition at Change.org.

Below is a poem Nazanin transmitted through Richard. “A Yard of Sky” so poignantly expresses her pain and hope for better days. 

You remain in our hearts, Nazanin…..

A Yard of Sky

by Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

Sometimes days can pass

Without me seeing the sky

Except that small piece with the lonely cloud

Brooding over the prison yard

Our view in this far off place

While elsewhere the trees bloom

And the sun dazzles

And the leaves fall

And the snows come again

In our yard of sky

Days do not differ

They do not pass, but repeat

As a mother alone

These days I am a lonely mother:

I bathed my baby in my tears of goodbye

My arms full of cuddles now ended,

With kisses of hope

For her return

On an adventure to be with her hero

Who she could only imagined for more than half her life

A reality now to mend.

I was left behind

With my repeating

While outside passes by and on

Tears my food, fears filling my mind

Solitude too often my friend, and doubt my relentless foe

What if they never let me go?

Laughter become my past, sorrow only my present

And hope on a horizon hard to see

Yesterday we sat in the yard

We welcomed the newcomers from solitary

And baked scones for breakfast

Which we ate with pistachio peel jam

Willing it to taste sweet

We showed them the yard of winter sun

Wishing it to be warm

I talked of the almond tree

In my grandparents’ village up in the hills.

It survives the wind and cold and storm

Then bears the most beautiful blossoms

And almonds so sweet in May

I talked of the almond tree we have at home

Now far away

I talked of being strong

To myself as well as to those listening

For when the seasons move again.

Freedom needs its faiths

That faith is our survival

Within these walls of recurring days

And absences

Across the swirling storms of Iran

That lonely days of separation will pass,

That the walls will fall

That beyond the pale sun

Injustice will become a shadow

And our trees of solitude will blossom again

In the sky beyond the yard.

One day we will sit on our own balcony

And see the sky open wide

Watching the seals in their sunbathing

A new breakfast of scones and jam

Understanding their sweetness anew

With the happiness in arms so long out stretching

And cuddles no longer missed

Now to fill a new life.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

Evin Prison, Winter 2019

 

An Open Letter to #FreeNazanin

 

 

An Open Letter to Nazanin Ratcliffe

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.

Dear Nazanin,

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.

nazanin-ratcliffe-2I’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.

nazaninThis 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.

Sincerely,

Dana Taylor

Read More about Nazanin

Iran Hold Briton as Arms Deal Bargaining Chip

Nazanin Radcliffe Held Without Charge

Sign Petition at Change.Org