Mothers of detained hikers use hunger strike to publicize issue

The mothers of two UC Berkeley alumni who have been held in an Iranian prison for nearly two years began a hunger strike last Thursday, vowing to only drink water in an attempt to bring further attention to their sons’ detainment and to bring them home.

According to a statement from the Free the Hikers organization, Cindy Hickey and Laura Fattal — the mothers of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, respectively — began fasting May 19 after the Iranian government failed to bring their sons to court for a scheduled trial hearing May 11. The beginning of the fast coincides with the one-year anniversary of the mothers’ visit to Iran to see their sons, according to the statement.

“Shane and Josh have been denied justice and compassion for far too long,” Laura Fattal said in the statement. “Today we begin a hunger strike and stand with our sons to urge Iran to stop punishing them — and our families — for no reason.”

Fattal, Bauer and Bauer’s fiance,  Sarah Shourd, all UC Berkeley alumni, were arrested by Iranian officials in 2009 for allegedly spying while hiking along the Iran-Iraq border. Shourd was released on $500,000 bail in September after discovering a lump in her breast.

Fattal and Bauer remain imprisoned in Iran and pleaded not guilty in court, while Shourd pleaded not guilty in absentia. The hikers and their families maintain that they were not spying and that if they crossed the border, it was accidental.

Though Shourd received a subpoena April 27 to appear in court, she has refused to return to Iran for hearings, saying she is experiencing depression and post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of her imprisonment.

Katie Nelson is an assistant news editor.