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Sarah Shourd
Sarah Shourd is an author, activist and Contributing Editor at Solitary Watch. She spent 410 days in solitary confinement while held as a political hostage by the Iranian Government in 2009-2010. Before being captured Shourd was living in a Palestinian Refugee Camp in Damascus, Syria working with the Iraqi Student Project. She’s written for The New York Times, CNN, Newsweek's Daily Beast and has a blog on Huffington Post. Her memoir (co-authored by her now-husband Shane Bauer and friend Josh Fattal) will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in Spring 2014. For more information visit:

Entries by Sarah Shourd

Newly Released Recordings Capture Abuse in Immigration Detention

(0) Comments | Posted August 12, 2014 | 12:22 PM

This week Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC) released seven audio recordings and videos documenting arbitrary use of solitary confinement, sexual assault, physical abuse by federal agents, prolonged detention, retaliatory transfers, and other aspects of life inside U.S. immigration detention.

"I caught one of the officers kissing...

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At Hearing on Solitary Confinement in California Prisons, Advocates Challenge 'Reforms'

(14) Comments | Posted February 15, 2014 | 12:56 PM

"We're here to question the existence and effects of the SHU," stated California Assembly Member Tom Ammiano on Tuesday, "and we don't think this new proposed policy goes nearly far enough." Ammiano, who chairs the Assembly's Public Safety Committee, was speaking at the second joint California Assembly-Senate hearing on the...

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The Execution of Edgar Tamayo Arias

(13) Comments | Posted January 24, 2014 | 11:38 AM

Yesterday at 9:32 p.m. CT, Mexican national Edgar Tamayo Arias was executed by the state of Texas. Convicted of murdering a policeman, 46-year-old Tamayo received very little sympathy for the crime that he very well may have committed. What has evoked public condemnation though is the fact that...

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ICE Blacklists Community Visitors

(14) Comments | Posted August 15, 2013 | 3:40 PM

Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) bars detained immigrants from meeting with volunteer visitors, part of a crackdown on visitation in immigration detention facilities across Southern California.

Victoria Mena, coordinator of the Friends of Adelanto Detainees visitation program, arrived on Friday, July 26th, at the Adelanto Detention Center in the Mojave...

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The Dream 9

(35) Comments | Posted August 7, 2013 | 3:30 PM

What is it that motivates people to risk their well-being in an effort to further a cause?

Meet Lulu Martinez and Maria Peniche -- two of the nine young undocumented immigrant activists who delivered themselves into the hands of U.S. immigration authorities on the U.S./Mexico border last month in...

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A Play About Solitary Confinement

(1) Comments | Posted June 25, 2013 | 9:00 PM

A grey, limitless ocean that stretches out in front and behind you--a colorless world with almost all the life drained out of it--an emptiness and loneliness so inescapable and all-encompassing it feels like it might erase you. The best way I know to describe the psychological torture of prolonged solitary...

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Buried Alive: Solitary Confinement in Immigrant Detention

(17) Comments | Posted April 8, 2013 | 3:48 PM

The following is a forward I wrote for a new report by Physicians for Human Rights on Solitary Confinement in the US Detention System.

Sitting in a nearly empty cell -- a metal sink, the blank stare of the white walls, fluorescent lights that...

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Two Years of Freedom and My Debt to the World

(29) Comments | Posted September 14, 2012 | 6:30 PM

You may know me as one of the three American Hikers held hostage in Iran. I was released two years ago today. It was, in many ways, the best and worst day of my life. I was finally in my mother's arms, but Shane and Josh were completely out of...

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When It's This Quiet, You Can Hear a Pin Drop: The State of Iran's Movement for Democracy on Its Third Anniversary

(11) Comments | Posted June 12, 2012 | 8:50 AM

Three years ago, while sipping coffee and watering my plants in my apartment in Damascus, Syria, I turned on my TV and images of the streets of Tehran erupted in my living room.

Iran's movement for freedom, human rights and democracy began with a bang on July 12, 2009....

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Simply for Trying to Teach: Imprisoning Bahá'í Teachers and Leaders in Iran

(107) Comments | Posted May 22, 2012 | 2:24 PM

During the 410 days that I spent inside the closed walls of Evin Prison, I often wondered what the human beings alongside me were being punished for. Through the few scattered, clandestine conversations I was able to have with other women prisoners, I learned that I was being held in...

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They Were Arrested Too: Iran's Harried Student Movement

(15) Comments | Posted May 3, 2012 | 5:53 PM

Abbas Hakimzadeh is a good listener. He's not prone to talking about himself but he is eager to talk about the status of the student movement in Iran, of which he himself is a seasoned veteran and three-time political prisoner.

"There are no longer student protests in the streets...

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Iran: Stop Playing Games With My Lawyer's Life

(77) Comments | Posted April 5, 2012 | 7:51 PM

On September 14th, 2010, the day I was to be released by the Iranian Government after being held hostage for 410 days, I would not sign the papers they put in front of me without my lawyer, Mr. Masoud Shafii, present.

Frustrated by my obstinance, the unnamed man who...

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