The Iranian government has granted temporary visas to the mothers of three young Americans who have been held since July, after crossing into Iran from Iraq while on a hike. There were signs of stress and relief on the faces of Cindy Hickey and Nora Shourd as they spoke about their planned trip to Iran on Tuesday.
Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd, and Josh Fattal
Hickey: "We're very excited
about this. This is the best news I personally have gotten for 10 months --
that we get to wrap our arms around our children and let them know we're going
to get this done."
Shourd: "We just can't wait. We're going to have to wait a little bit longer, but it's actually going to happen. It's becoming a reality, finally. I can't imagine how excited they are going to be to see us and, of course, vice versa. We need to see our kids."
Hickey: "Our main goal is to convince the Iranian authorities to release our children. We want to bring them home. Coming home without them would be devastating and we're going very determined to bring them home."
The women said Iranian authorities have permitted
only a single, one minute telephone conversation with their children since
Shourd describes her daughter Sarah as a spunky, caring young woman, who had been working in Syria helping Iraqi refugees. She was on vacation hiking in northern Iraq with Hickey's son, Shane, a photographer, and a mutual friend, Josh Fattal, when the three say they lost their way and crossed the border into Iran.
Hickey, Shourd and Laura Fattal arrived in New York on Sunday after receiving Iranian visas last week. Their travel plans are being arranged by the Swiss government because the United States does not have diplomatic relations with Iran.
Iran's Foreign Ministry said the visas were issued on humanitarian grounds.
Shourd insists that all three hikers are innocent of spying, and says that the campaign for their release has nothing to do with politics.
"It's about how a mother would feel anywhere in
the world - how an Iranian mother would feel [and] how an Iranian official who
has children would feel," she said. "If they thought how difficult this has been
for ourselves and our kids. And the biggest thing we are asking is that this
thing be handled in a humanitarian way and it not be mixed with diplomacy or
Hickey and Shourd had a message for their children.
Hickey: "I'd like to tell Shane, 'I love you very much.' We're working as hard as we can for you and we will get this done and you will be home."
Shourd: "Hi sweetie. I'll see you in a couple of days. If you can see me now, I have a big smile on my face because I know I'm going to see you."
Shourd, Hickey and Fattal are scheduled to leave for Iran on Tuesday. Repeated calls to the Iranian Mission to the United Nations for comment have not been returned.
MOTHERS OF AMERICAN HIKERS DETAINED IN IRAN TO VISIT THEIR CHILDREN IN EVIN PRISON THIS WEEK
Families Hope to Meet Iranian Leaders to Appeal for Their Release
The mothers of the three American hikers detained in Iran - Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal - announced today that they will leave for Tehran on May 18 to visit their children in Evin Prison and said they are asking to meet with Iranian leaders to appeal for their release.
The mothers - Cindy Hickey, Nora Shourd and Laura Fattal- applied for visas on January 6 and received them from the Interests Section of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Washington DC on May 12.
Swiss diplomats last saw Bauer, 27, Shourd, 31 and Fattal, 27, on April 22, only the third time they have received consular access in more than nine months. They reported that Shourd has serious health issues and that Bauer has a stomach ailment. All three were despondent at the lack of movement in their case and had spoken about going on hunger strike, increasing family concerns for their wellbeing. The three have not been allowed access to their Iranian lawyer, Masoud Shafii, and have spoken to relatives only once by telephone for a few minutes on March 9.
"We are grateful to Iran for issuing our visas. This is an encouraging development. We are overjoyed that we will soon be able to hug our children but our joy is naturally clouded by the fear of returning home without Shane, Sarah and Josh. That is more than any mother, anywhere in the world, should have to bear and we would be absolutely devastated," the mothers said in a joint statement.
The three Americans were detained on July 31, 2009 when news reports say they accidentally strayed across an unmarked border with Iran while on a one‐week hiking trip in Iraqi Kurdistan. In September, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he would ask the judiciary to show maximum leniency and repeated in an interview during his recent visit to New York that he would ask the judge handling the case to "ender maximum cooperation"to their families. "e hope Iran' leaders will agree to meet with us so that we can respectfully ask them to release our children as an act of human kindness to our families. We trust they will act with compassion, end our heartache, and let us all be together again as families,"the mothers said. "ore than nine months in prison is sufficient punishment for any transgression our children may have committed and we urge the authorities to allow them to come home with us. This nightmare has lasted too long."
... Payvand News - 05/18/10 ... --