Released hikers use spotlight to advocate for improved foreign policy & closure of secret CIA prisons
Matt Gratz, Political Fail Blog
After two long years, or 781 days to be exact, in Iranian prison, American hikers Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal have returned home. The two twenty-nine year olds were reunited with their friend Sarah Shourd, who was released from Iran last year, at a press conference this afternoon at a New York hotel. While Shane Bauer had the spotlight, he used his moment to advocate for improved foreign policy and the closure of secret CIA prisons.
During the lunch time press conference, the two friends took to the podium to tell the world of their two year ordeal behind Iranian bars. After Joshua Fattal finished his statement, Bauer wasted no time in expressing his views. He immediately began speaking of the failed relationship between the US and Iran, which he then blamed for his prolonged incarceration.
“The only explanation for our prolonged detention is the thirty-two years of mutual hostility between America and Iran. The irony is that Sarah, Josh and I oppose US policies towards Iran, which perpetuate this hostility,” Bauer said earlier today at the press conference.
The newly freed man spent the majority of his time speaking on behalf of those who remain in the prison where he was once held and in other prisons around the world. He made it very clear that he disapproved with both the Iranian government and the US government’s human rights violations. Bauer said that he cannot forgive the Iranian government while they continue to hold innocent people and prisoners of conscience in prison.
“How can we forgive the Iranian government when it continues to imprison so many other innocent people and prisoners of conscience. It is the Iranian people who bear the brunt of this governments cruelty and disregard for human rights. There are people in Iran who are imprisoned for years simply for attending a protest, for writing a pro-democracy blog, or for worshiping an unpopular faith.”
Bauer described being taunted by prison guards just for being American. He said that the guards would constantly remind him of the conditions at Guantanamo Bay and the many secret CIA prisons around the world. Bauer also mentioned the ill treatment of prisoners here at home. Perhaps he was referring to the treatment of Bradley Manning or maybe Troy Davis, an innocent man who was put to death days ago by the state of Georgia.
“In prison, every time we complained about our conditions the guards would immediately remind us of comparable conditions at Guantanamo Bay,” Bauer said. “They would remind us of CIA prisons in other parts of the world, and conditions that Iranians and others experience in prisons in the US.”
The former political prisoner also made it clear that the illegal actions of his country (the US) did not justify the actions of the Iranian government towards him and his friends. The hikers do believe, however, that the actions taken by the US government has given other countries excuses to “act in kind.”
“We do not believe that such human rights violations on the part of our government justify what has been done to us. Not for a moment. However, we do believe that these actions on the part of the US provide an excuse for other governments, including the government of Iran to act in kind.”
It is important for Americans to know the reason why others around the world might not like them. It is not because they hate “freedom” or even the American way of life (most Americans hate that.) The fact is that America has a huge target on it’s back because it has a presence in every other country in the world. With that kind of exposure, your bound to run into some bad press and earn some haters.