hikers.jpgProtests are being held in San Francisco and 18 other locations around the world over the next several days to mark the one-year anniversary of the detention in Iran of three University of California at Berkeley graduates.

Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer, 27, and Josh Fattal, 27, have been imprisoned in Iran since last July 31.

Their family members and friends say they were detained after they accidentally crossed an unmarked border into Iran while hiking in Iraq’s Kurdistan region. But Iran has accused them of espionage and said that it plans to prosecute them, although no formal charges have been filed.

The hikers’ mothers are Nora Shourd of Oakland, Cindy Hickey of Pine City, Minn., and Laura Fattal of Elkins Park, Penn.

A “Free the Hikers” rally will be held at the plaza at the 16th Street BART station at 16th and Mission streets in San Francisco from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.

The first of a total of 21 protests around the globe was held in Duluth, Minn., Thursday night. A second protest will be held in Duluth on Saturday.

Seattle is also the site of two events. One is a rally and the other is a solidarity hike.
Among the many protests today will be a rally outside Iran’s mission to the United Nations in New York and a rally outside Iran’s embassy in London.

Among the other cities where protests will be held are New Delhi in India and Vancouver and Toronto in Canada.

Iran granted visas to the hikers’ mothers in May and the mothers were allowed to visit the country for two nights and see their children on two locations. But the mothers returned on May 21 without their children.

On May 24, after their return to the U.S., the mothers announced that Shourd and Bauer are engaged to be married and intend to marry soon after they are released.

In a recent letter to H.E, Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, the head of the Office of the Judiciary in Iran, the mothers said Iran “has held our children in virtual isolation from their families and the world for almost 12 months and we call on you to end their unjust and arbitrary detention before the one-year anniversary of their arrest on July 31.”

They said, “Our children’s imprisonment in the absence of any certainty as to their fate or to the specific allegations against them is unlawful and inhumane. We demand an immediate end to Sarah (Shourd’s) solitary confinement and immediate access to the results of her medical tests.”

The mothers said, “Sarah has serious health problems and her continued isolation will do lasting damage to her mental and physical well-being.”

They said, “Our children have been able to telephone their families just once in almost a year and not at all since our visit.”

The mothers added, “It surely does Iran no good in the eyes of the world to continue to deprive our children of their liberty.”

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