Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe breaks silence on Iran jail horrors and the way she survived | UK | News | EUROtoday

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has spoken out in regards to the horrors of her years spent in an Iranian jail and the way she managed to remain sane – by knitting a pinny for her then child daughter.

The mother-of-one, 45, who was held in jail from 2016 to 2022, defined how she saved her thoughts lively – even in solitary confinement – to stave off boredom and despair.

In a candid interview with Harper’s Bazaar UK, writer Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe instructed how stitching and knitting her personal garments and sharing inventive shops together with her fellow prisoners grew to become a strong manner of sustaining her connection to the surface world.

“Identical uniforms in prisons are used as a device to implement self-discipline and impose energy,” she explained.

“The concept behind giving each inmate an oversize, low-cost uniform in intentionally uninteresting colors is to dehumanise them.

“The second you set the uniform on, you might be now not your self; you lose your title and id. To them, you might be only a quantity,” she said.

And she told how while inside she never forgot her family and knitted a pinafore for her then baby girl Gabriella, now nine.

“I knitted a lot. For months, I collected little bits of remaining wool from those who were about to be released,” she stated.

“Using them, I crocheted small flower motifs in various colours and by joining them together, I made a pinafore for my baby girl.

“I called it the ‘freedom pinafore’ because the wool I used once belonged to those who were freed. I also knitted woollen hats and gave them away as presents to my friends in Evin [prison].”

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was detained in Iran on 3 April 2016 as part of a long running dispute between Britain and Iran.

In early September 2016, she was sentenced to five years in prison after being found guilty of plotting to topple the Iranian government.

After numerous legal wrangles and campaigning by her husband Richard she was eventually released in 2022.

And in the new interview, she told how finding creative outlets such as sewing helped her escape the daily realities of imprisonment.

“Life on the ward was similar to being on a university campus. We were a group of women cooking, reading, fighting and creating together, with one exception: we did not choose one another,” she stated.

“Our experience was repetitive and regimented, and how to pass the time was the main challenge of the day. In solitary confinement, time was stagnant; there was literally nothing to do. The longer you spent in solitary, the more you appreciated life in the general ward, where sewing, knitting, woodwork and other forms of creativity affirmed a different world from prison.”

And she added: “The days when sentences had been introduced, inmates had been taken to trial or relocated to different prisons, we had been all stuffed with anger and disappointment. To cope, we used each event to rejoice by holding onto little issues that related us to our life past jail partitions.”

“Giving away presents at the time of release was a fundamental practice. We crafted handmade accessories to be given as presents or at times, to adorn our outfits when choices were limited. We recycled every piece of scrap fabric, leather, wool, button, wood and bead to make earrings, bracelets, necklaces, hair pins or even belts.

“We also helped each other by teaching these skills, and everyone was keen to pass them on to the newcomers.”