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Wedged between emotional accounts of their imprisonment and gratitude toward friends, family and campaign leaders in a press conference just hours after landing in New York, hikers Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer surprised many when they pinned blame on American policies.
“From the very start, the only reason we have been held hostage is because we are American,” Fattal said at the opening of his talk, often repeating this point. “Iran has always tied our case to its political disputes with the U.S.”
And that very well may have been the case. They were political pawns. They may have been used for political bait or a prisoners’ swap, as is often the case, and particularly a pattern we have often seen in the three decade rule of the Mullahs in Iran.
To fault American policies for their more than two year imprisonment in the hands of the Iranian regime, however, is completely unjustified.
The hikers didn’t see their imprisonment as a unilateral offense on the part of the Iranian regime that often incarcerates those with dissenting political, religious, cultural and even social practices.
After 781 days at Evin Prison, it is completely audacious for the hikers to point any fingers at the U.S. and to still see the evils of the Iranian regime as only relative to the crimes of this nation or any other. This is the same naïve mindset that possessed them to go hiking in that area in the first place, something that they still have yet to address. It’s a refusal to believe that evil exists and that fundamentalist ideology wants death and destruction for the West.
The irony of it all, Bauer said, “is that Sarah, Josh and I oppose U.S. policies towards Iran which perpetuate this hostility.” The comment received a nod from third hiker Sarah Shroud who was released last year.
They find irony in the fact that since their political ideologies differ with those of the U.S. then they did not deserve to be imprisoned. Does that mean that perhaps someone who does agree with U.S. foreign policy then, does? Or are they merely using their five minutes of fame, and their first public appearance, to make political statements against the democracy in which they live?
The only irony here is that they are making these allegations against a country that actually gives them the podium to make these political critiques.
The point that the three completely miss is that their lives were saved precisely for the fact that they are American. Had they been Iranian, they would have stood the probable chance to be executed like the many innocent natives who are put to death every year, some just for attending a protest, others for their sexual orientation or religious beliefs. And while they speak about the brutality in Evin Prison, hearing the “screams of the other prisoners being beaten” and even having “experienced a taste of the Iranian regime’s brutality” themselves, they fail to connect their own fate to the fortune that spared their lives.
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