Shane & Josh

This charade must end


Shane & Josh
by Trita Parsi

Today, I carry the torch of a rolling hunger strike for Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, two American journalists who have been detained in Iran for more than twenty months without a trial. In these long twenty months, they have only been permitted two short phone calls, one family visit, no opportunity to write a letter to their loved ones, and since October last year, they have only spoken to and seen prison guards. Their families do not even know how they are coping.

Shane and Josh's story is unfortunately not an uncommon one. In 2010, the Iranian government executed 542 prisoners. Many of them did not get a fair trial or even access to a lawyer. And many of them were executed because their political views did not conform with those of the Islamic Republic. According to former New York Times Iran correspondent Nazila Fathi, the Iranian government is currently holding 1,000 political prisoners in jail. Five hundred of them have been tried, while another 500 are faced with the uncertainty shared by Josh and Shane.

For the larger American audience, Josh and Shane have come to personalize the systematic human rights abuses that currently take place in the Islamic Republic.

Their case alone is riddled with human rights violations. According to Article 38 of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, prisoners who are foreign nationals shall be allowed reasonable facilities to communicate with the diplomatic and consular representatives of the State to which they belong. Yet, Josh and Shane have only had four consular visits, totaling no more than 2.5 hours out of of the 14,600 hours they have been detained. Instead, Josh and Shane spend 23 hours and twenty minutes a day locked in a cell no larger than 10 by 14 feet with no access to anyone but their prison guards.

Though Josh and Shane have a right to due process and access to their lawyer under Iranian law, they have only been able to spend five minutes with their lawyer - in the presence of the investigator and prosecutor. Their ability to defend themselves has been all but eliminated since their trial keeps getting postponed inexplicably. And every time it does, their nightmare continues.

Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have documented the violations committed by the Iranian government in the case of Josh and Shane and called for their release.

Iranian Americans can easily identify with Josh and Shane's families, because their story is eerily familiar. Josh and Shane are trapped as pawns in a political battle within Iran's ruling elite, as well as that between the U.S. and Iran. They have no part, no role, and no influence over either one of these man-made conflicts.

But those who carry these conflicts forward cannot escape accountability. Those who are holding Josh and Shane are not only violating their human rights, they are also violating Iranian law. This charade must end. Josh and Shane must be released. And so must all prisoners of conscience in the Islamic Republic.

First published in


Trita Parsi is president of the National Iranian American Council.


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more from Trita Parsi

Hass-terical: Purveyor of rubbish and phony "facts", 24/7

by AMIR1973 on

Several million Mexicans and other immigrants have entered the U.S. illegally (including some of our own fellow Iranians who have overstayed their visas, lied on their visa applications, entered the country on false pretenses, etc): they work here, send their kids to school here, and, despite some of them living in relative hardship, still enjoy a far higher standard of living than they would in their own countries. Your "facts" are pure rubbish, O West-residing IRI Groupie.



by hass on

Heineous crimes or not, they were still entitled to consular representation. And these two are not accused of adultry or corruption or whatever so that's irrelevant. These two entered Iran illegally, and are being treated better than any Iranian who enters the US illegal would be treated. Fact.


This is NOT the first time NIAC supported the release of hikers

by MM on

 house/senate bills (U.S. Hikers Resolution (S.CON.RES.40 / H.Con.Res. 189) that called for Iran to grant counsular visits to the hikers and to unite them with their families.


The Senate Calls on Iran to Release Three Detained Americans

Bill text (House) / (Senate)



hass-terical says "Not so fast". LOL!

by AMIR1973 on

in fact the US has EXECUTED foreign nationals WITHOUT allowing them ANY consular visits AT ALL (Mexican nationals.)

Naturally, this West-residing IRI Groupie forgets to mention that those few Mexicans who were executed after a very long appeals process were executed for heinous, premeditated murders -- not to be mistaken with the IRI's use of executions for "crimes" such as adultery, pornography, drug trafficking, "waging war against God", "sowing corruption on earth", etc, etc. Also not to be mistaken for the fact that the IRI is the world's leading per capita executioner. Imagine the gall of a Groupie of an anti-Western terrorist regime that has executed thousands of Iranian men and women, who offers constant online propaganda supporting this regime but lives in the West and uses Western freedoms and technologies to spread this propaganda.


No, not so fast.

by hass on

In allowing these people FOUR consular visits, Iran has already exceeded what the US allows -- in fact the US has EXECUTED foreign nationals WITHOUT allowing them ANY consular visits AT ALL (Mexican nationals.)

 And comparing these people with political prisoners is nonsese. They "accidentally hiked" across Iran's borders -- at a time when the US media is full of stories about "clandestine warefare" being carried out by the US/Israel against Iran. In fact they're lucky that IRan has not decided to waterboard them, when accorind to US LAW waterboarding is not torture.


That was a Belated letter. Though late is better than never.

by amirparvizforsecularmonarchy on

This issue was an obvious case of interest for Iranian Americans.

Just unbelievable it took Iranian Americans within NIAC, so long to condemn the IRI on this issue.

So far NIAC has a long way to go in pursuing regime change in Iran in favor of a secular system, but late is better than never, lets get cracking on that issue Trita. 



you had me at

by oktaby on


and for a brief shiny moment I thought you were going to end your charade Trita. But no, you have just begun another.



Indeed! This charade must stop!

by mirza on

Bahram G and Roozbeh Gilani, I'm with you guys. This guy's a lobbyist and should really get a license for it. His defense of Shane & Josh is just to play to the American side of the Iranian-American business, as well as, as mentioned by others, playing to the general anti-dictatorial sentiments of any decent person.

Now, let's see him defend as vociferously thousands of others, all Iranians, in macabre prisons of this fascistic regime, getting tortured, raped and killed and then not even a funeral can be held for them, since their bodies get dumped in secret mass graves.

Trita Naa-paarsi sleeps with western oil companies and dreams of selling our country to the big oil. Dream on & Stop taking us for stupid idiots! 


آنچه شیران را کند روباه مساج...


You folks aint seen nothing yet! 

With the popular anger and opposition against the islamist regime building up towards a boiling point, with the leadership of islamist regime at each other's throat over the stolen petro dollars, with the money flow drying up, we shall start seeing complainst against the islamist regime coming from pretty unlikely sources. All music to my ears if you ask me :)

"Personal business must yield to collective interest."

Bahram G

Do You Suppose?

by Bahram G on

Do you suppose this Trita guy got a private notification from his bosses in the IR that the two hikers will be released soon? And now, he is beating his chest for them so that he can claim credit in the same way he and niac claimed credit for the multiple visa thing. Well, sorry folks. This guy and his group are trying to buy legitimacy with the Iranian expats to service the IR and enrich themselves in the process. That's the way the people in the know see it and I am inclined to agree with them. Stay tuned and see if something doesn't break in the case of the two hikers and Trira doesn't claim the credit.

Bahram G


These folks

by Raoul1955 on

Are ADULTS.  They took a risk 'hiking' near or into the Iranian territory.  Let them suffer the consequences of their [own] stupid decision.  Their story should serve as a warning to those folks who want to go to all these backward nations.  The US government should do absolutely nothing for these ADULTS. 


Thank you Mr. Parsi for your efforts to raise awareness

by Bavafa on

And talking about things that matters to us. The shameful of imprisonment of countless Iranians and these two Americans without any charges filed against them nor any access to any due process must come to an end.

I thank you and all those who work towards peace, unity of Iranians both inside and outside of Iran and raising awareness for the much injustice and crime that goes on in Iran against our ham-vatan.



re: There You Go Trita! See! That wasn't so hard!

by Reality-Bites on

I'll bet it was.

For years and year I used to read Mr. Parsi's articles, one after another, criticising the US policy towards the Islamic Republic, while remaining deafeningly silent over IR's hostile posturing against the West and the gross abuses of Human Rights in Iran.

After the stillborn "Green Revolution" Mr. Parsi at long last started to at least acknowledge that maybe, just maybe, the predicament Iran finds itself in might also have something to do with the IR's continued intransigence against much of the West and the brutality it inflicts on its own citizens. Mind you, it's only every now and then Mr. Parsi feels compelled to say something against the Mullahs. But it's a start.


There You Go Trita! See! That wasn't so hard!

by bahmani on

As an admitted pain in Trita's left ass-cheek of late, I have been trying to get the young man behind NIAC, to point out and argue against bad Iranian policy, with the same fervor he has fought against bad US policy.

I have always felt that Trita and NIAC have been doing good work in general, here within the obvious safety of US law and order.

But hardly has there been a whimper against Iran.

You see, I believe that today, since 1979, Iran is the primary cause of US-Iran problems.

In 1953, I would agree it was the US.

I'll give anyone who wants it, that up to 1979 Iran is a wash, primarily because it was a lot more fun living in Iran generally speaking than after 1979. (No trust me, it was a LOT more fun!)

So, imagine my surprise and joy at reading this piece by Trita today.

Now if we can only get him and NIAC to send 10,000 emails letters and faxes to Iran, maybe we can get somewhere!

Of course we need to first find out who's actually in charge over there?

Wait another minute! Maybe, just maybe, we don't need Reza Pahlavi after all!

Thanks Trita! This is a good (hopefully more to follow) step towards becoming the well-thought out and argued free opposition to bad Iranian policies that harm Iranians and Iranian-Americans and go against their wishes and concerns.

Actually now that I think about it, this may meet the NIAC mission statement and membership directive, after all!