Two daughters of British-Iranian citizens detained in Iran have come together for the first time to make a film about how much they want their parents to come back to them at Christmas.
Elika, daughter of Anoosheh Ashoori, is shown sharing her emotional pain with Gabriella, the daughter of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
In a soft film made by Amnesty International, the two daughters, 28 years apart, bake cakes together, while Gabriella makes a Christmas card for Boris Johnson. They talk about the times when they miss their parents the most.
Elika admits that she especially misses her father on birthdays, Christmas, and while baking cakes, while Gabriella says she misses her mother the most at night, when she “cries” because “I want her home.”
Elika maintains that although they have an age difference that spans more than two generations, they share something deep in their common sense of loss, but adds that Gabriella has gone through something even more overwhelming than she has when visiting her mother within the Evin prison.
Gabriella was 22 months old at the time of her mother’s arrest in April 2016 and returned to Britain last year to join her father Richard Ratcliffe. It is the fifth Christmas that Nazanin has been detained in Iran, either in prison or, as today, with a tag at her parents’ home in Tehran.
The film was made at the Ratcliffe family home in North London and the Ashooris home in South London. Gabriella’s Christmas card shows a family that includes Boris Johnson. Carry the message: “Dear Boris Johnson, can you please bring my mom home for Christmas. She has been fine. When I come back, I want to hug her first and then go to the toy store with her. Merry Christmas to you and your family. I love Gabriella. Xxx “
Anoosheh Ashoori’s wife, Sherry, also appears in the film, where she reflects on the “horrible” nature of her husband’s three-year detention in Iran. Like Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Ashoori, who lives in the UK, was arrested in Iran while visiting a relative, his elderly sick mother. The following year, he was jailed for 10 years (with two years to execute simultaneously) after a grossly unfair trial in which torture-tainted “confessions” were used to convict him of “cooperating with a hostile state.”
In the Amnesty video, Sherry is shown at home telephoning her husband in jail in Iran, with Anoosheh answering the call and saying “I just miss my family. That’s the only thing I can say ”. Sherry describes the loss of her husband for a decade “as a different level of suffering.” She is trying to escalate her husband’s case with the Foreign Office to be granted diplomatic protection from the UK in the same way as Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
Ashoori has written a vivid account of her life in prison, including her efforts to educate herself and stay fit. He has the ambition to run the London Marathon if he is released in time for his body to be able to take on that task.
Richard Ratcliffe also looks at how his daughter views her mother’s incarceration, her caution in trusting adult promises, possible stigma, and how she sees a world so unfair that it prevents her mother from returning home.
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