My daughter Sarah Shourd, and her partner Shane Bauer along with their friend Josh Fattal have been incarcerated in the notorious Evin prison in Iran for more than 10 months now, 312 long and difficult days, as I write this story.
Sarah and Shane moved to the middle east in August 2008 with clear intent to expand their actIvist lives by living in and writing from a part of the world perceived by many in their own country as a place to be feared, as a place where people are somehow different and not at all understood. Sarah felt a strong need to 'give back' and chose to work with Iraqi refugees in Damascus, stranded there after the US occupation of Iraq. Shane is an independent journalist who wrote from Yemen, Iraq and Syria about the effects of US policy in the region, putting out a different side and breaking down barriers of disinformation thru his work.
They have been held now in virtual isolation from the outside world. We had one brief phone call with them; our Iranian lawyer hired in December has not been allowed access to his clients; the Swiss Protectorate has been granted three consular visits; we were given a visit to Tehran on a two day visa to see them three weeks ago and Sarah remains in solitary confinement seeing the other two only briefly daily. they have not been officially charged with anything and have not been interrogated since September. The Iranian gov't says "its in the hands of the judiciary" but we know they are being used as political collateral in a game played by both Iran and the US.
The inherent irony to their prolonged detention besides their innocence is that their personal political ideals, writing and activism are not entirely out of synch with their captors. They are for a free Palestine; marched in the streets of Damascus with their Syrian friends when they heard about the bombing in Gaza; have a long history of direct action against the US occupation in Iraq and the effects of US foreign policy in the Middle east. There is no reason to hold them except for political gain and it obvious to the world by now.
I try to speak in Sarah's voice because she can't. Sarah would be speaking out loudly in her strongest voice yet; against the human rights violations under which they are being held; about the injustice of detention for other political prisoners,women and men who speak bravely about their own repression of their government; against the recent murders of the aid workers on the Freedom flotilla to Gaza.
I see her in my mind walking out of prison, free to pick up her life again, a life so intertwined with the lives of women just like her everywhere, shining a light on injustice where it hides, sometimes in a lonely prison cell.
Actions you can take to help Sarah, Shane and Josh: To sign a petition for their release, which will be delivered to the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Mission to the United Nations: http://freethehikers.org/?page_id=345
To write a letter to President Ahmadinejad and Chief of the Judiciary Sadegh Larijani calling for the Hikers’ release: http://freethehikers.org/?page_id=1573
To let the US government know that you care about Shane, Sarah and Josh and encourage your Congressional representatives to get involved in efforts to secure their release: http://freethehikers.org/?page_id=516
Please show your support by writing Shane, Sarah and Josh brief messages on a postcard, sending love, strength and good wishes to help ease their isolation. http://freethehikers.org/?page_id=367