Iran's Humanitarian Release of U.S. Hiker is Welcomed

Sarah Shourd, Josh Fattal and Shane Michael Bauer

Amnesty International and other organizations have harshly—and rightly—criticized Iran’s egregious human rights violations. However it is truly a cause for celebration when the Iranian authorities decide to take the high road on human rights, and these actions must be recognized and welcomed. In fact we are doubly grateful that in the past couple of days the Iranian government has released on bail both American hiker Sarah Shourd as well as prominent human rights attorney Shiva Nazar Ahari. These humanitarian gestures were performed at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, to mark the Muslim holiday ‘Eid al Fitr, a time when acts of clemency and mercy are traditionally performed.  Iranian Authorities have also cited Ms Shourd’s health problems as grounds for the decision to grant her release.

Sarah Shourd had been arrested along with her friends Shane Michael Bauer and Joshua Fattal while they were hiking in the Iraq-Iran border area on 31 July 2009 and they had been detained since then in Evin Prison in Tehran. Iranian officials have alleged that the three U.S. citizens planned to carry out espionage. Amnesty International recognizes that all nations have a right to secure their borders and to ensure that foreign nationals with hostile intent do not threaten their citizens or perform criminal acts in their territory. However, the three U.S. hikers were held without charge or trial for over one year and not one shred of evidence has ever been produced against them. At the time Amnesty International released its 30 July 2010 statement calling for their release if they were not to be charged with a recognizable criminal offense, one entire year had gone by—more than enough time for the Iranian government to present any evidence it may have held against them.

In calling for their release after one year of detention without charge or trial, Amnesty International was holding the Iranian authorities to the exact same standards that it holds other governments. Amnesty International has consistently and vigorously condemned the U.S. government for its detention without charge of “terror” suspects at Guantanamo Bay, as well as the Egyptian government for detaining suspects indefinitely on national security grounds, and the Israeli government for its unwarranted use of “administrative detention” to hold Palestinians for periods of up to several years without charge or trial.


A Birthday in Evin Prison – an opportunity to remember Iran's prisoners

By Ann Harrison, East Gulf researcher for Amnesty International
(As posted to livewire)

Shiva Nazar Ahari

To coincide with the 12 June anniversary of the disputed election last year in Iran, Amnesty International has prepared a campaign to highlight the situation of political prisoners, many of whom are prisoners of conscience, who are still held in Iran.

The year-long campaign was launched on Wednesday by a report which detailed the journey from protest to prison of ever-increasing numbers of Iranians.

For the campaign, we are highlighting the cases of several individuals whose experience epitomizes the injustices – arbitrary arrest, torture and other ill-treatment, unfair trial and even the death penalty – suffered by hundreds of others.

One of these is Shiva Nazar Ahari, a human rights defender, detained since December 2009, her second arrest since the election.

She is celebrating her 26th birthday in Evin Prison today – a name synonymous with the system of injustice that prevails in Iran. Colleagues and I will be remembering Shiva on her special day with a cake and birthday wishes.