'Save our kids Mr. Erdoğan'
The mothers of three U.S. hikers jailed in Iran called on Turkey’s PM via Turkish daily Haber Türk. They say ready to come to Turkey to beg for help.
Amberin Zaman / Daily Haber Türk
For more than a year now, three American hikers are being languished at infamous Evin prison in the Iranian capital known for torture and violence. Sarah Shourd, 31; Shane Bauer, 28; and Josh Fattal, 28. Last year on July 31, three hikers were captured while trekking by Iran’s so called revolutionary guards near Ahmad Awa, a lush, mountainous area of waterfalls and caves in Northern Iraq along the Iranian border and thrown into the prison by the head and ears.
The Iranian authorities accused them of spying; however, there is not yet an indictment against them. Iran has not filed charges against the three, who neither have seen a courtroom nor spoken with an Iranian attorney whom their families hired in December.
The Iranian government was called on numerous times to immediately release the hikers by many starting from the American President Barack Obama, Amnesty International as well as Archbishop Desmont Tutu, the spiritual leader of South Africa. Obama has flatly denied any connection between the trio and U.S. intelligence agencies. “They have no connection with our governement,” he said.
Shourd is reportedly being held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day since the first day of her imprisonment. She has discovered a lump in her left breast. She is not allowed to take medical care. She has to press a button to ring a bell, when she needs to go to the bathroom. She is taken out of her cell after her eyes are tied with a black strap to meet her needs. She paces with her fiancée Shane Bauer twice a day, 30 minutes in each.
Imprisoned Iranian women used to sing Celine Dion songs, while passing through her cell to cheer her up, but they were silenced. The trio could see their mothers only for once since they are arrested. That was in a hotel room, under the observation of Iranian officials. Hundreds of letters written by two sides are put off. When they would be released is unknown. They most probably are withheld captives as an aspect of negotiation for Iran and America’s constant nuclear hassle.
“We could stay alone with my daughter only at the toilet for a few minutes. She has health problems. Her psychology is broken. She might have cancer. I am excessively concerned. Turkey has good relations with Iran. This is advantageous for the West, too. Please, may your Prime Minister help us? Ahmedinejad would listen to you, and it is Ramadan now,” Shourd’s mother Nora told daily Haber Türk.
Suddenly her voice trills, she starts crying. “So our kids are claimed to be agents, but where is the proof?”
Who are these young Americans? What were they doing in Iraqi Kurdistan?
Sarah and Shane have lived in Syria for two years. Sarah was teaching English to the immigrants in Syria. Shane was a free lance journalist. He penned various articles condemning America’s war on Iraq. The first foreign country he visited was Turkey. Shane came to Turkey after he graduated high school, his mother Cindy told us over the phone. “He loved Turkey and the Turks. If our kids were intelligence agents, they would have been noticed in Syria, basically a police state,” Cindy says.
An expert on environment, Josh was there just visiting Sarah and Shane, who he is friends with since college.
Is Northern Iraq a tourist heaven?
Tourism in Iraqi Kurdistan might sound suspicious at first. The Kurdish region, however, advertised as the “Other Iraq” on the American televisions; is trying hard to attract tourists. Searching on Google, you can find many video shootings presenting Ahmad Awa waterfalls.
Interested in trekking, the trio decided to go to Iraq seeing these advertisements. “The Northern Iraqi authorities never warned them about the danger,” says Cindy. “I have been to Yemeni deserts with my son. He is a very experienced one. He would never take risks.”
A respected left-wing magazine The Nation, went on the issue examining the occasion, argued the Iranian revolutionary guards violated the border and captured the hikers with armed force in its report the magazine based on the eye witnesses they interviewed.
Not without our children
Both nurse, mothers of Sarah and Shane quit their jobs and moved in the same house in Minnesota. They spent all their time for their kids’ liberty. “We could not contact even one Iranian authority. There are some efforts of our government but inadequate. It would be very helpful if Turkey would step in. we are ready to come to Turkey and tell our story with every detail,” say the mothers adding they look forward for Turkey’s answer.