Three American Hikers in Evin–Depression, Sickness, and Hunger Strikes
Last Thursday, members of the Swiss Embassy in Tehran met with the three young American hikers arrested last July on Iran’s western border. The meeting was their third in the past ten months. During this meeting, Swiss diplomats representing US interests in Iran had long discussions with the American detainees.
A source close the hiker’s families told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that the detainees described disturbing episodes in their meeting. While in detention, the three prisoners’ health has deteriorated for various reasons and are in poor mental form due to depression caused by their indeterminate state.
Mothers of the three Americans, Josh Fattal, Sarah Shourd, and Sean Bauer, have applied for Iranian visas in the past few months. Iranian authorities announced on 6 January 2010, that they would grant visas to the families. Since that time though, no family members have been granted a visa. The same source told the Campaign: “Though the Iranian authorities said visas were issued, so far they have used various excuses to not issue them. Once they even said that the photographs were not taken properly. The aging parents of the prisoners are deeply sad and depressed because they have done their best in the past few months to remain positive in their attempts to establish contact with the Iranian government, but it has been all for naught.”
She added: “Hearing that the three of them are considering hunger strikes has shocked their families. They ask themselves, what could be happening in prison to cause them to make such a decision? As they have no contact with the outside world and their health seems to have deteriorated during their months of detention, we really don’t know how to find out whether they are on hunger strikes.”
The families of the three American prisoners have issued a statement and have asked the Iranian government to release their children. They have also asked to be allowed to travel to Tehran. The families have said in their statements that Sarah Shourd is kept in a different cell from other prisoners and is allowed to meet with Josh and Sean twice a day. According to their statement, the two men are also kept separate from other prisoners.