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May 20, 2010

Hikers and Mothers in Emotional Reunion

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The three American hikers who were detained by Iranian officials back in July were finally reunited with their mothers in Iran today.
Relatives of the hikers, Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer, and Josh Fattal, say that the trio were hiking along northern Iraq’s Kurdistan region and accidently crossed the border into Iran. A simple mistake, no? Tehran does not think so. Tehran is paranoid at the thought of anyone trying to topple the Islamic Republic and will detain anyone who seems suspicious. On one hand, in the case of the hikers, it is understandable that Iran would worry about someone crossing into the border, especially from Iraq since the United States has such an overwhelming presence there. Look at the United States. We enforce a very strict border control with our neighbor Mexico.
However, to detain them for so long and only allow them to speak to their families once is not acceptable. Yes, they have allowed the mothers to visit for a week, but it is not enough. These individuals have not been given a trial even though the Iranian Foreign Minister stated in December that they would be given one, nor have the three been charged — which is a violation of Iranian law.
So is there any hope for these three Americans to be released soon? In the past, Iran and the United States have made backdoor agreements where detainees from both sides have been released in an exchange. For this particular case, some analysts do believe that Iran will release the hikers in a prisoner swap, similar to what was rumored to have been done with the Frenchwoman Clotilde Reiss. The Iranian Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi told reporters that Iran has been treating the hikers according to their “religious principles”  and “on humanitarian grounds”, and that the United States should reciprocate with Iranian detainees in their custody.
It is true that human rights violations occur everywhere and that Iran is not the only judicial system which has its faults.  It is also true that Iran and the United States have poor diplomatic relations. If the hikers were Malaysian, for example, things may have been slightly different.  The hostility between Iran and the West is not helping the situation and politics is politics no matter what. However, when an individual has not even been told what they are charged with, it is no longer politics but a violation of rights.
Here’s hoping for a safe and speedy return.

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