“Sometimes when I come back from the visit with Gabriella, after saying goodbye to her, I feel as if I cannot live without her, I want to go back and hold her. She kisses me so hard. It is hard to say goodbye to her. She blows kisses all the way as she goes up the stairs, and everyone stands there watching.” These are the words of a grieving British mother, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, held in prison in the Islamic Republic of Iran, as she describes saying goodbye to her child.
In 2016, the relationship between the regime of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the Obama administration seemed to have reached a euphoric level. Many exorbitant concessions were made by the United States to the Islamic Republic. The argument for these concessions was that such policies of appeasement would inspire Iran to change its malignant behavior, and that the freedoms that resulted would trickle down to the Iranian people. People began to think it would be safe to travel to Iran again. As tourism began to increase, however, it soon became clear that there was still rampant danger. People started becoming the new hostages of Iran.
Two of these victims are an innocent British mother, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, and her helpless then-22-month-old daughter, Gabriella. Zaghari-Ratcliffe traveled with her baby to Iran to visit her family on Norowz, the Iranian New Year, in 2016. With the change in political climate Zaghari-Ratcliffe, employed as a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of the Canadian news agency, Thomson Reuters, assumed they would be safe. As she boarded the plane, she had no idea what she would face at the Khomeini Airport. She was surrounded by The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and arrested.