While most of the world watches the incredible developments of the Arab Spring, two of the biggest supporters of democracy for ordinary Arabs sit, almost forgotten, in the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran, Iran.
Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal were arrested by Iranian border guards on July 31, 2009, as they were hiking in Iraqi Kurdistan and arrested under suspicion of espionage. Shane's fiancée, Sarah Shourd, was also arrested and imprisoned, but was released on $500,000 bail in September 2010 for humanitarian reasons. She is now home in the United States leading the battle for justice and the return of Shane and Josh. Sarah has the support of leaders throughout the world, including President Obama, President Clinton, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Desmond Tutu. Iranian President Ahmadinejad even met with Sarah in New York, but has ignored all requests for the release of his American prisoners.
I met Sarah several months ago when I was in Washington working on One World 2011, a mission founded in 2008 to help create better understanding between the people of the west and the Muslim world. I immediately knew we had a great deal in common and was impressed with her warmth, concern for others and dedication not only to her two friends suffering in Tehran, but to suffering people everywhere.
Much has happened since Sarah, Shane and Josh were improperly imprisoned (no evidence has ever been presented by the Iranian government and a trial scheduled for May 11 never happened), while the media has turned its attention to other breaking stories. Shane and Josh's fate has slipped into oblivion.
That is why I accepted Sarah's personal invitation to participate in a "rolling hunger strike" that will continue over the next month. Every day, concerned individuals will fast to bring attention to the on-going Iranian injustice. Participants include Sarah; Deepak Chopra, highly respected humanitarian and regular contributor to the Huffington Post; Cindy Sheehan, who lost her son in Iraq; Laura Ling, who was wrongfully detained in North Korea; and Chris Turner, wrongfully convicted ex-prisoner who served 26 years in American jails.
Before their detention -- years before the Arab Spring -- Sarah, Shane and Josh had been living in the Middle East, dedicating themselves to teaching and helping Arab students gain skills to continue their education. Now they need our help. Please go to their website www.freethehikers.org. Let's keep the demands for the release of Shane and Josh alive.