[Marxism] Christian Parenti: support the hikers jailed in Iran

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Jul 20 09:33:38 MDT 2011


Call to Help the Hikers

Christian Parenti
Contributing editor, The Nation

If you care about solidarity activism, independent reporting and 
the ability of progressive journalists to work on the frontlines 
of world events, I encourage you to make a simple phone call to 
the Iranian Interests Section in Washington D.C. on behalf of the 
two American hikers who are still being held in a 10' x 14' cell 
in Iran.

Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal have been locked away for almost 2 
years. Recently, after repeatedly denying them visits with their 
lawyer and failing to produce them in court at the last hearing, 
Iran announced that it will resume their espionage trial on July 
31. In reality, Shane and Josh were merely vacationing, and went 
for a beautiful hike along a river valley. Shane and his fiancé 
Sarah Shourd had been living in Damascus, Syria. Shane was 
studying and writing. Sarah was teaching English to Syrian 
students, and Iraqi and Palestinian refugees. Their friends Josh 
and Shon Meckfessel were visiting. Sarah had time off from 
teaching, so the four traveled together to Northern 
Iraq/Kurdistan, a semi-autonomous region where tourism flourishes, 
and which the Kurds, with the help of a U.S. Political Relations 
firm, a former U.S. Ambassador, and Fox News, had touted as safe. 
Everyone they met told them to hike to the waterfall. The problem 
was, they continued up the same trail, having no idea how close 
they were to the completely unmarked border with Iran. Somewhere 
along that border, and it is unclear on which side of it, Shane, 
Josh, and Sarah were arrested -- or more accurately abducted -- by 
an Iranian patrol. (Their other friend, Shon Meckfessel, was sick, 
and had stayed at the hotel.) Sarah was released after 14 months. 
Now, the other two face trial on espionage charges.

Shane Bauer has reported from Iraq, Ethiopia and Syria. He has 
written acclaimed articles, highly questioning of U.S. foreign 
policy for the Nation magazine where I am a contributing editor. 
Recently, Shane won high praise for his journalism from the 
inimitable Robert Fisk. (See "Is Shane Bauer Really an Enemy of 
Iran," U.K. Independent, May 6, 2011.) Josh is an avid 
environmentalist and teacher. Though I have never met Shane or 
Josh, we have close friends and extensive community in common.

The espionage charges against Shane and Josh are absurd on their 
face, and Iran knows it. As Sarah's chief interrogator informed 
her two months into her detention, Iran knew they were innocent 
but their case had become political. Two years later, Shane and 
Josh are still being held as political pawns, caught between two 
nations who refuse to talk to each other directly. If the Iranian 
political class has read any of Shane's, Josh's, or Sarah's works, 
which are widely available on the internet (see 
FreeOurFriends.eu/), it would be evident to them that the hikers 
are the exact opposite of U.S. spies.

But the Iranians have not acted on this reality as a result of 
their own inner turmoil and tension between political factions. 
Meanwhile, their continued detention of these two young men, in 
isolation, in a cramped cell, and without affording them even the 
process they are due under Iranian law, further corrodes their 
image around the world.

The competing Iranian power brokers need to be reminded 
collectively that their continued incarceration of the hikers is a 
stain on Iran's honor. This is the purpose of the phone blitz 
leading up to Shane and Josh's trial on July 31. Please make a 
simple phone call between July 25 and July 29, and politely but 
clearly let the Iranian Interests Section in Washington D.C. know 
that your eyes, and the eyes of the world, are on them.

Here are the details:

Week of Action Call Everyday For Their Release!
Starting Monday July 25th until Friday July 29th
Interests Section of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Washington D.C.
(202) 965-4990

For more information: www.twoyearsistoomuch.wordpress.com

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