Haverstock Series: Interview with Richard Ratcliffe | The Ever-Moving Escalator

Haverstock Journalism Club

Haverstock Journalism Club spoke to Richard Ratcliffe, husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian charity worker who has been detained in Iran since 3 April 2016.

Haverstock is a co-educational school in Camden Town, North London. Producing political heavyweights including the likes of Ed Miliband, it is not a school that should be cantankerously dismissed. Students are engaged, well informed and mean business. This is the latest in a series of contributions from their students.

Richard Ratcliffe is a good sport, volunteering to join us for orange squash and chocolate biscuits. However, when he talked it made us think of a man, constantly running up a very fast moving escalator and just as he gets to the top being thrown viciously back down. It must be exhausting, dealing with the sadness and constant disappointments. We asked about Gabriella:

Richard: Gabriella will phone me and say: “Hello Daddy. Where’s my toys!” So we go straight to look at them and the toys she likes will be the baby toys there is a toy it has a wooden pole and rings on it. She still likes doing that. So I do it for her and I always get it wrong!

Gabriella is lucky because she does have her Grandmother and her relatives in Iran but we wondered, if repeatedly, asking to see her baby toy’s, is her attempting to make sense of a situation, where Gabriella deep down feels continually: frightened, sad, worried and lost.

Yousuf , one of our Journalists said:

“Once, I was out with my family and I fell asleep and got left behind on a bus. When I woke, I said: “Where’s my Mum? Where’s my Dad?”” He still remembers the fear…

We didn’t understand the situation so we did loads of research but the more we learn, the more questions buzz around in our heads, like very angry bees.

Why is Nazarin incarcerated for a crime where there are: No witnesses. No motive. No forensic evidence?

Why after Boris visited Iran is Nazarin suddenly accused of yet another crime?

Why is Nazanin being held in prison because of the UK’s outstanding debt and a trade deal being used by the UK Government as an excuse to give into bullies?

The Iran Government gave Gabriella back her passport recently. Richard told us.

I applied for a visa to talk through with Nazanin the possibility of Gabriella coming home but they never gave me a visa. So in a sense, we stay in that position where I cannot get there to talk it through and I promised Nazanin I wouldn’t just ask someone to bring her home on the plane.

Nazanin is being held hostage in everything but name.

Little Gabriella isn’t able to get to see her Dad so in a sense she is a prisoner too.

We decided to research Gabriella’s rights under the UN Charter for the Rights of the Child.

Article 18 states …The right of the child to live with both parents.

The only reason a child would be denied this right is if there is abuse. Gabriella’s parents have looked after her well and she is being denied this right..

Last December, at the Belsize Park Christmas Concert we wrote: A Letter to Gabriella. In it we stated:

‘Gabriella we will NOT give up’.

The United Nations Charter for the Rights of the Child recently has recently created a way for children to apply directly to the United Nations. This happens when the ‘state’ has not acted in the child’s interests. We have decided as Friends of Gabriella to ask for the UN Special Rapporteur for Children to look into Gabriella’s situation and ask for her mother to be released.


Written by Yasmine Year 7, Fahim Year 7, Iman Year 8, Tasnim Year 8, Billy Year 8, Yousuf Year 9, Anisah Year 9, Shamarke Year 10

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