Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has offered words of encouragement to Richard Ratcliffe, whose wife, British-Iranian charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, is imprisoned in Iran after conviction for alleged espionage.
Ratcliffe and his wife went on a coordinated hunger strike to call on the Iranian government to release her from prison. De Lima said she was made aware of Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s situation from online news printed and delivered in Camp Crame by her staff.
“Allow me to express solidarity and admiration for your courageous action which highlights not only the situation of your wife but also of those unjustly imprisoned like myself by repressive governments,” De Lima said in an open letter to Ratcliffe.
“I may not know the magnitude of your pain but I am well acquainted with the anguish of persons wrongfully deprived of their liberty, suffering its attendant indignities,” added De Lima, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development.
Like Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who is falsely accused of espionage, De Lima said she can relate to her situation as she is also in detention for fabricated drug charges filed by the Duterte government using perjured or coerced witnesses.
“Like Nazanin falsely accused of espionage, trumped-up drug charges were used to unjustly detain and silence me. Like Nazanin, I am desperate for my freedom but like her, I also remain unbowed,” said De Lima.
De Lima, the most prominent political prisoner under the Duterte administration, also encouraged the Ratcliffe couple to draw strength and hope from our faith, family and friends, saying that the “truth is on our side”. Both De Lima and Zaghari-Ratcliffe are considered by Amnesty International as “prisoners of conscience” who were targeted for their peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and association.