Waiting for Sarah

Photo essay: Visiting the mother of an American held at Evin Prison

by Nazy Kaviani
13-Sep-2010
 
I went to visit Sarah Shourd’s mother, Nora, in Oakland a few weeks ago. Sarah Shourd is one of the three American hikers in prison in Iran [Update: Sarah has been freed]. The three young Americans were arrested on July 31, 2009 on the Iranian border with Iraq for illegal border crossing. They are being held inside Tehran’s Evin Prison without a chance to see their lawyer, without proper contact with their families, and in violation of Iranian laws. Read what their lawyer, Massoud Shafiee, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (August 25, 2010). For more information see freethehikers.org
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Nazy Kaviani

Anonymouse Jan

by Nazy Kaviani on

Thanks so much for keeping an eye on this feature! I think someday someone should write a several-volume book about the cultural and semantic influences of paranoia on Iranian political, social, and language development.

Thinking about the word "spy" and how the significance of this most important accusation/act is being lost through desensitizing the general public about it through frequent and unsubstantiated use, I want to say that Kayhan Newspaper is notorious for labeling and accusing with impunity. IRIB is no better than Kayhan.

Words such as "ma'aloom-ol-haal" and "faased," "mofsed," "onsor and anaasor," etc. are frequently used to describe those who have different beliefs. I think ultimately the society pays dearly for the loss of meaning of many words, sometimes using them in quite the opposite way, for example, the word "taghooti" which in day-to-day conversations became something akin to "chic" and "expensive" or "rich," where in fact the Quranic meaning of the word is quite horrible.

Another thing that really bothers me is looking at photographs and video of a criminal, terrorist, perpetrator, or "araazel va obaash" being arrested in Iran. All over the world, the face of perpetrators are covered to protect their identities until they have been put on trial. Iran is one of the only places in the world where you see people being arrested by the police with their entire faces showing. The ironic thing is that the police are the ones whose faces are covered in those photographs and videos! Two examples of this are photographs of "araazel va obaash" being arrested with the aftaabeh's around their necks a few years ago, and the arrest video of Abdolmalek Rigi.

Thanks again for participating in the discussion Anonymouse!


Anonymouse

Ahmed my advice to you is to not blow the horn by the wrong end.

by Anonymouse on

Everything is sacred


Hamed

Dear Nazy

by Hamed on

I am glad and delighted you understand. You did a great piece, and whether you're a professional journalist or an amature or just doing this as a obby try to cover all angles next time, don't be like Fox news.  I any rate if you know "anonymous", give him some word of advice too. Have a great day.

 


Anonymouse

Hamed as I said. So much 4 "tolerating" & not "labeling" Oh well

by Anonymouse on

Everything is sacred


Hamed

Dear anonymous

by Hamed on

I suggest you find a name for yourself and learn how to think and speak logically you are way off kilter. Let me see based on your writing I suggets you call yourself "Shaboon bee Mokh" or better yet " thug"  . Based on your emblem why don't you call yourself "Old Wreck" .

 


Nazy Kaviani

Peace Hamed!

by Nazy Kaviani on

Ey baba! A clarification is in order my friend! I was not talking about you, I was talking about myself! I even said "sharing personal experience" at the beginning of that paragraph. I was trying to say what has worked for me. The equivalent Farsi expression would have been "vaghti rigi be kafsh nadaram, az hich chizi nemitarsam." My meaning may have been lost and I do apologize for it.

Peace Hamed! Man gardanam az moo ham bareek-tareh baba joon! Be khoda I tolerate! Bavar kon I am respectful and loving of all regardless of our differences!

I am grateful to you for expressing your opinion in my humble feature. I am thankful for the gift of intelligence and caring which creates the dialogue, the only sacred thing. I am. Thank you.


Anonymouse

Hamed we hear the same rationale from Ahmadi, over & over again

by Anonymouse on

In his interviews he appears like a choir boy and claims the same freedom of speech and accepting the same opposing views that you're talking about.  Islamic Republic as a whole considers itself massoom (innocent) and is always blaming others.

Should I review how the "opposing views" were treated last year and as we speak?  Jailed and tortured.

So no I don't care about just "talk".  The Russian spies were under surveillance for years!  And they were exchanged with similar US spies in Russia. 

These 3 were spies for only hours, if not minutes before they were arrested at the border.  Didn't even get a chance to spy.  Do you see the difference?

As it is the policy of always blaming others, this falls in the same category. 

Everything is sacred


Hamed

Dear Nazy

by Hamed on

Which country will let spies go? the answer is US, just recently released a bunch of Russian spies, check the recent news. Calling me a hired gun is ridiculous, just because I am not unconditionally agreeing with you and your friends' point of view should not be the reason to allow yourselves to insult me and put unjust and baseless label on me. Then what is the difference between you and the mullahs in Iran.

Let me give you a word of advice: Until you and your friends and all Iranian (and every other society for that matter) learn to tolerate and respect opposing point of views expressed amongst them, the free Iran that all of you (and myself included) are vying for and screaming/ pounding your chest about, will not be realized. Democracy, freedom, liberty, freedom of press, religion and speech sounds very good, but you need to learn how to earn it, practice it, nurture it, and make it grow and above all maintain it and preserve it. From the attacks that you and your friend have made on me so far, you have a long way to go to reach your freedom ideals. Start working on it today my friends.


Hamed

Dear Nazy

by Hamed on

Which country will let spies go? the answer is US, just recently released a bunch of Russian spies, check the recent news. Calling me a hired gun is ridiculous, just because I am not unconditionally agreeing with you and your friends' point of view should not be the reason to allow yourselves to insult me and put unjust and baseless label on me. Then what is the difference between you and the mullahs in Iran.

Let me give you a word of advice: Until you and your friends and all Iranian (and every other society for that matter) learn to tolerate and respect opposing point of views expressed amongst them, the free Iran that all of you (and myself included) are vying for and screaming/ pounding your chest about, will not be realized. Democracy, freedom, liberty, freedom of press, religion and speech sounds very good, but you need to learn how to earn it, practice it, nurture it, and make it grow and above all maintain it and preserve it. From the attacks that you and your friend have made on me so far, you have a long way to go to reach your freedom ideals. Start working on it today my friends.


Hamed

Dear Nazy

by Hamed on

Which country will let spies go? the answer is US, just recently released a bunch of Russian spies, check the recent news. Calling me a hired gun is ridiculous, just because I am not unconditionally agreeing with you and your friends' point of view should not be the reason to allow yourselves to insult me and put unjust and baseless label on me. Then what is the difference between you and the mullahs in Iran.

Let me give you a word of advice: Until you and your friends and all Iranian (and every other society for that matter) learn to tolerate and respect opposing point of views expressed amongst them, the free Iran that all of you (and myself included) are vying for and screaming/ pounding your chest about, will not be realized. Democracy, freedom, liberty, freedom of press, religion and speech sounds very good, but you need to learn how to earn it, practice it, nurture it, and make it grow and above all maintain it and preserve it. From the attacks that you and your friend have made on me so far, you have a long way to go to reach your freedom ideals. Start working on it today my friends.


Nazy Kaviani

Hamed

by Nazy Kaviani on

1. Even if there are things we don't yet know about this incident, in time we will. I will accept that you think I am gullible for believing this story. I do believe it. I don't believe that the three Americans were spies. I do believe that they got lost in an unmarked and unfamiliar terrain.

In July there was an article in The Nation which said that the hikers did not cross the border illegally, but that they were abducted by Iranian authorities inside the Iraqi soil. I will wait to get more information before believing this one.

2. I think the Iranian government has over-used and as a result de-emphasized the significance of the word "spy" and that is just too bad. I don't believe any of the people who were accused of being "spies" over the recent years were actually spies. Espionage and treason are the most serious crimes an individual can commit in any country. If the Iranian government let the "spies" go and leave the country, in my book it means that they weren't really spies or that there there must not have been enough evidence of their espionage, despite the fact that the Iranian government was able to extract televised "confessions" out of them. Haleh Esfandiari, Maziar Bahari, Roxana Saberi, and Ramin Jahanbegloo are only some of the examples.

What country would really let "spies" go? Why was Sarah Shourd allowed to leave if she was a spy?  Can you answer that? 

3. This is what the Associated Press had to say about the bail money paid through Oman.

Hamed, let me share a bit of personal experience and advice with you. Try being a little more trusting. Even if some people call you gullible or use condescending tones in talking to you, you might have more friends and enjoy life a little more. So long as you know you are following your heart and you are nobody's hired gun, your social life and your attitude could improve drastically.

My two cents.


Spike

Simorgh5555

by Spike on

The reason this story hasn't been covered more widely by the US media is that it isn't "sexy" enough.  3 dopey kids who can't read a map isn't as exciting as a whole buch of US Embassy employees being held by the Iranian govt.

The old saying still holds true:  If it bleeds, it leads.


Anonymouse

So "YOUR theory" is a big fat NOTHING!

by Anonymouse on

Everything is sacred


Hamed

MY Theory

by Hamed on

I certainly do not think that the way this incident is portrayed by the media- three innocent hikers- is true. We have to wait and see what the real story is, may be after it is cleared by State dept or other US gov departments having to do with this in years to come. It is more involved than this. I would not be surprised to find out that there is a linkage with Israel/Mousad. All I am saying is let's not look at this innocently. It is not what it is portrayed to be to the masses.  I find it hard to believe that you buy the media's innocent hiker story. But if this is the case my friend I do not know what else to say.


vildemose

She is a peacnick. That

by vildemose on

She is a peacnick. That should explain all the mysteries for you Hamed. Look at all the posters in her mothers house...

Your comparables are not valid but you knew that already. No one is saying being American gets you arrested in Iran.

 

Hope you're not doing this propaganda service for IRI for free???


Anonymouse

Hamed what is your "theory"? I explained mine clearly.

by Anonymouse on

Everything is sacred


Hamed

Dear anonymous

by Hamed on

Why these three, there are many other American nationals in Iran right now who live work, sightsee, spy etc... , but are not captured and jailed on espionage charges. Are you suggesting that the Iranian regime is so irrational and stupid to just arrest these three and not others? I do not think so. There is more to the story. Please dig deeper for some real answers. With respect to drawing a parallel with this story by turning the table and insinuating that the way the hypothetical Iranian crossing the US border illegally would have been treated by US authorities thus same protocol by Iranian authority should have been reciprocated here, don't even go there, and don't even repeated this analogy anywhere else because of obvious reasons. It makes you loose credibility. By the way who are you, are you Nazi? If not who are you and what is your source. With respect to the bail money, why would Oman gov pay 500,000 dollars for bail? it is far fetched and not reported by any credible news agency or reporter that I could find. It is the first time I hear it. You should either have the one source that no other news media has or you are too good at making up your own news. The latest is that she (sarah) wants to take her sweet time and stay in Oman. Isn't this strange! What is her next hiking adventure ? A real innocent person who mistakenly wondered across a hostile nation’s border illegally and jailed for a year in the dungeon will not loose a second to get back home after gaining freedom. But no! she wants to stay in Oman!! Go figure. 

 


Anonymouse

Hamed we have some answers now. Oman paid for her release.

by Anonymouse on

The $500,000 was paid by Oman as in man o man! Apparently Oman is a friendly country to both US and Iran so they paid.

As for hiking in Kurdistan, there are tours in Iran that take you to the Kurdistan area.  This is relatively new and as we all know Kurdistan wasn't a "tourist" destination despite the fact that its nature is beautiful and should've been.  Kurdistan is also an area bordering Iran, Iraq and Turkey.

So yes most of us wouldn't go there hiking but it doesn't mean no one would.  These 3 certainly didn't intend to go to Iran and their current charge of "illegal border crossing" supports that. They were in Iraq.

What else would they be doing at the "border"? Right at the "border".  Planting listening devices in the middle of nowhere with no spying value?  Or attempting to enter Tehran with their blonde and American look and no Islamic hijab?!

At her release she said her focus every day would be to bring attention to the release of her fiance and her friend because they should be released too.  So I expect her to give many interviews and state knowing what she knows now they shouldn't have hiked there.  But it doesn't mean they should be put in jail for 14 months and counting.

If an Iranian crosses the American border in Mexico (like some already have) they'd be treated as illegal entry and like other immigrants that attempt it every day would be finally deported.  In many cases if the return is voluntary and the immigrant willing to pay the tickets back home, like these 3 would've had, they'd be sent back sooner.  Yes an Iranian crossing an American border would raise eyebrows but they wouldn't be held on spying charges or held indefinately.  If he had a bomb with him he'd be treated as a terrorist but in hiking gear just attempted illegal entry and deported. 

Everything is sacred


Hamed

Mystery

by Hamed on

Dear Nazi, good effort, however in your conversation with the mother did you touch on the subject of why they chose to go hiking in the trecherous region of Iran-Iraq border? Did you ask about the verasity of the espionage charges and the real story behind it? Did you ask where the bail money came from? These are questions that the whole world wants to know the true answer to. If not will you go back and find out what really happened? Thank you again.


Shifteh Ansari

AP Video: Sarah Shourd arrives Oman airport

by Shifteh Ansari on


Ali P.

Wow...

by Ali P. on

What a great report Nazy jaan!

Excellent job!


Faramarz

مهماننوازی وضعیف کشی جمهوری اسلامی

Faramarz


Great News and 2 More to Go!

Thank you Nazy for taking the time and spending time with Sarah’s mother. I am sure that your presence and sympathy went a long way.

Before this gang took over Iran over 30 years ago, if there was one thing that the Iranian people were famous for, it was our hospitality (Mehman Nawazi).

These hostage takers and pirates are trying to take that away too. Their Foreign Ministry spokesman’s name is Mehman Doost! What a joke!

And now that Sarah is sick and needs a doctor, they first set a ransom amount of $500,000 and then release her.

You just can’t reason with these people.


Anonymous_B

Thank you!

by Anonymous_B on

Thank you dear Nazy Jan for your photo-essay.

I hope that once Sara is returned safely home, you will be able to have another visit with her mother, and herself.

 

 


Nazy Kaviani

Great news!

by Nazy Kaviani on

Thanks for the great news Jahanshah! Thank you all for your comments and words of hope.

I hope Sarah's other friends are released soon, too. I hope all prisoners of conscience and political prisoners inside Iranian jails are released soon, too. I continue to hope that the people of Iran will have an independent and fair justice system which would concentrate on rehabilitating Iran's criminals, never again persecuting and prosecuting its bright and beautiful minds or putting them behind bars instead of places of learning and growth.


Anonymouse

JJJ great news! Hope mother & daughter are re-united very soon!

by Anonymouse on

Everything is sacred


Jahanshah Javid

Sarah has been freed

by Jahanshah Javid on

BBC: Iran has released Sarah Shroud, an American woman held for more than a year on suspicion of spying, reports from Iran say. Ms Shourd's lawyer said she had been released and was heading to the Swiss embassy in Tehran >>>
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-11299867


Anonymouse

verytass "intelligence" is for intelligent people.

by Anonymouse on

Everything is sacred


Azarin Sadegh

Thank you, Nazy jan!

by Azarin Sadegh on

Such a heartbreaking story...Your gentle eyes has captured this mother's hopes and hopelessness! Excellent work..thank you!

What makes the story even more tragic is the fact that Sara and her friends are not some CIA spies/agents, but a few pro-peace kids from Berkley (and anyone living in the US knows exactly what it means..:-) who care about the Iraqis and probably were hoping to reach out to them with some peace message! Really sad...  


mohajaf

Very well done. This point

by mohajaf on

Very well done. This point of view was definitely missing in the online Iranian community. My thoughts are with those three young prisoners as well as every innocent Iranian prisoner of conscience.


verytass

"Hikers" is insulting my intelligence

by verytass on

Calling them Hikers is insulting my intelligence. What idiot would go to northern Iraq where its under the control of Israel's Mossad,  approaches or crosses the border to Iran.

We have many innocent Iranians in IRI's Evin prison, who are rotting to death everyday.But these people, one, were asking for it and two are kept in a pretty good situations. They don't deserve any sympathy. She should pay the bail money and skip town quick. 

 

What would have happened if three Iranians had hiked on Mexico's border and "accidentally" crossed into US. For one, they'd be interrogated for years in some secret prison and deservingly so. These idiots don't deserve any better. When someone goes sky diving and dies I have little sympathy for them and this is no different. 


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