Free The Hikers Update
Dear Heather Dalberg,
In case you haven’t been following the dramatic developments of the last month weeks, here is an update:
Ø May 12 – The hikers’ mothers were granted visas from the Iranian Interests Section in Washington DC
Ø May 20 – The mothers met with Shane, Sarah and Josh for six hours including a tightly controlled press conference.
Ø May 21 – The mothers met again with their children for four hours after meeting family members of Iranians detained by US forces in Iraq and watching gory films about terrorist groups it is concerned about. The mothers had to make a very emotional good-bye to their children as they rushed off to the airport via the residence of the Swiss Ambassador, where they met very briefly with Shane, Sarah and Josh’ lawyer, Massoud Shafii. The mothers visas had been curtailed from seven days to two.
Ø May 22 – The mothers returned to JFK airport in New York without their children and held a press conference.
Ø June 3 – Prominent mothers, Nobel laureates and other leading activists, call for the hikers’ release and urge Iran not to use them as bargaining chips.
Ø June 4 – Josh turns 28 years old in Evin Prison, the first in a series of summer birthdays and family milestones (hopefully the last that will be commemorated while they are detained).
From the moment Iran made it public that it was granting visas to the mothers until a few days after the mothers’ arrival in New York the news media took a heightened interest in the hikers’ plight, which you may have seen. Links to a few stories are at the bottom of this email.
Click on this link (slideshow) to see images of the mothers’ visit to Tehran and their reunion with Shane, Sarah and Josh.
So how are the hikers doing?
Ø Most troublingly, Sarah is STILL in isolation. She spends twenty-three hours a day by herself. While a marginal improvement from the total solitary confinement the hikers were subjected to earlier in their detention, it is astonishing and inhumane to keep her so isolated. The Swiss have repeatedly called on Iranian authorities to give her a cellmate at the very least.
Ø All three hikers were even skinnier than their normal frames, pasty in complexion and with a yellowness in the teeth that hints at a nutritional deficiency.
Ø They have tremendous solidarity with each other and rely on each other to make it through their trying detention. Shane proposed to Sarah back in January, making a wedding ring out of thread. They have asked Josh to be their best man.
Ø The limited time they get together is extremely valuable. They make recipes for “prison pie” that they make from foods they manage to collect, run study groups, and exercise.
Ø Books and letters are a lifeline to them. The prison library is poor. For example, there is one English encyclopedia volume “M, N & O” and which they have now nearly memorized. They are studying for the GRE in anticipation of possibly applying to graduate school.
Where does their case stand?
Good question!!! They were forbidden to talk about their case during the mothers’ visit and the Iranian authorities did everything they could to limit the mothers’ access to the hikers’ lawyer. The only possible charge they should face is illegal entry. Nevertheless, Iran’s Intelligence Minister, Heydar Moslehi, has renewed accusations of espionage. He has provided no evidence (since it doesn’t exist) and called explicitly for a prisoner swap with the United States.
What can you do?
Ø Spread the word that the Hikers should be freed. Undertake symbolic but peaceful actions outside of an Iranian Embassy or Consulate.
Ø Speak out about who Shane, Sarah and Josh really are – activists committed to peace and social justice – and why it is ironic that they are being held so unjustly for so long.
Ø Write letters to President Obama urging him to do everything in his power to bring the hikers home
Ø Post writings and reflections on the supporters’ blog, www.blog.freethehikers.org
Ø Consider making a donation
The emotional ups and downs of the last few weeks have been extremely difficult. As families we have been maintained by the tremendous support we receive from around the world. Knowing that you all have Shane, Sarah and Josh in your prayers means a tremendous amount to us and sustains us through this protracted crisis. From the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU!
The Bauer, Shourd and Fattal families
Recent news stories
MAY 27 | BRING THEM HOME-EUGENE WEEKLY
MAY 17 | A MOTHER’S JOURNEY-ABC RADIO
MAY 13 | GLIMMER OF HOPE FOR HIKERS’ MOMS-CNN