I woke up this morning to see this news flash regarding the fate of the hikers in Iran from Amnesty International: http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/iran-release-us-hikers-following-%E2%80%9Cgrossly-unfair%E2%80%9D-trial-2011-08-21. Though I’m not surprised by the outcome, I am upset because of how it is still unfair. Add that I actually knew Shane Bauer back in community college, and you can see why it upsets me.
When I was in my last year of community college at City College of San Francisco, I was encouraged to apply to the government NSEP scholarship to study Chinese for the duration of as little as a summer to as much as year in China, then immediately upon graduating college, work for the government for a year. During that time, I met Shane with the other candidates, and noted him for wearing a homemade bandana that spelled out in Arabic “I support the Iraqi resistance” and immediately knew from his initiative to study Arabic in Syria and his plans to return there to study more regardless of whether or not he got the NSEP that he would be awarded the scholarship. Given the world events at the time in late 2004, Arabic speakers were definitely going to get preference for work.
Shane was a nice and modest guy, with a good sense of humor and a lot of respect for people. I knew he was passionate and compassionate, and though initially a bit taken aback by his headband, I could see his heart was in the right place and was already encouraging him from the moment we met at the scholarship meeting. I ran into him a couple times after during school, and we exchanged casual conversation, because he was always ready to say hello to an acquaintance, not caring what he could get out of people, but to have quality relationships with people regardless.
It’s that personal tie that lets me know that it isn’t fair someone like he and his friends are imprisoned in Iran for being accused of espionage, and that the trial he had was completely unfair. When these issues go on in the world, it saddens me that people turn the other way because they feel it’s not their business or they can’t make a difference.
In this case, I need people to want to make a difference and take action through Amnesty International, because it has freed many people through the actions of many individuals around the world who simply wrote one letter (and now just send one e-mail) on behalf of people like Shane Bauer. So for just one moment, take some time to read this and pass the news on, and when an action opens on Amnesty International, send an e-mail on Shane’s behalf and mine, please.