Photo: schani

Sarah Shourd, one of the three American hikers who was detained and imprisoned by Iranian authorities, was released in mid-September; the other two hikers remain in Evin Prison. This letter was sent by Sarah to supporters of Free the Hikers in late October. She has given Matador permission to reprint the letter in its entirety here.

I came out of prison feeling frozen. I put up walls inside walls because if I stayed tender for 13 months in prison I would have exposed myself to too much pain; because there wasn’t enough beauty in a day to ward off the long, spiritual winter; because I needed them to stay sane.

More than anything I’m grateful to finally be sitting here writing about prison in the past tense.

Yet, for Shane and Josh, prison is still locked in the eternal present.

I am one of the only people in the world that has their voices still fresh in mind. They were truly joyful to see me go free. Tightly grasping my hands in theirs they said, “We believe in you, Sarah, no one is more ready and capable of jumping into the free world and fighting for us than you are.”

“Free-life offers new challenges and very different obstacles than I faced in prison. I have reentered a world of fear and uncertainty…and also of great hope.”

Free-life offers new challenges and very different obstacles than I faced in prison. I have reentered a world of fear and uncertainty…and also of great hope. Now I know first-hand what our families and all of you have been experiencing all along.

I learned patience and perseverance those long months and it’s those lessons more than anything that are serving me now.

The most important thing that I can offer you are the words of Shane and Josh. What they want to say to you, more than anything else, is “Thank you.” Not even a message as basic as that has been able to fly from their lips, suspended by tender air currents and carried into your ears, for all these months.

“Thank you.”

Since the day I stepped off that plane into Muscat, Oman I’ve met with three presidents, numerous foreign ministers and ambassadors. Not one of them means any more or less to me than one of you.

I fervently believe that everyone’s efforts led to my freedom, everyone’s belief that the world contains as much goodness, and as much justice, as we create and put into motion. Not an ounce more or an ounce less.

I want this freedom, this justice for Shane and Josh, with every morsel of my being. Every breath I take, every time I open my eyes in the morning and every time I close them at night, I see them. I know them and I love them.

“Since the day I stepped off that plane into Muscat, Oman I’ve met with three presidents, numerous foreign ministers and ambassadors. Not one of them means any more or less to me than one of you.”

I want to ask you to please, look to the positive, feel the power and the strength of what you’ve done. Help us give one, last, huge push!!!

I’ve asked the world to redouble its efforts. But what does that mean? It means do what you do best, whatever it may be. Do what you do best for Shane and Josh. We need fundraising for legal expenses, translation and travel. We need t-shirts and jewelry sold. We need prayers and we need action. We need more people to visit the website and sign the new petition. Make a “Free All Three” banner and hang it up in the most visible spot you can find. We need you to mobilize and be ready for the next step when it comes.

We have all been changed and continue to be changed by this experience. Thanks to all the love and support I’ve felt in the last month I’m slowing thawing out, but sometimes it feels like a glacier in there, waiting for thousands of years for just enough sun. When Josh and Shane get out they will help me figure it out. No one knows me as well as they do. When the three of us are together and free, I know we will heal.

“Do what you do best, whatever it may be.”

Prison is not heaven or hell. Nothing in life made us ready for this experience, but Shane and Josh are coping. They are as strong as they need to be. They will walk out unbroken.

One of my students once said to me, “A part of me is yours forever” because I was there to help him get through a difficult time in his life. I want to say the same to all of you on behalf of myself, Shane and Josh, “A part of us is yours, forever.”

“Thank you.”

When Josh and Shane are free we will all be able to exhale collectively, pause and then ask, “Who’s next” There are millions more lined up, waiting to get free. “What’s next?” There are countless changes that devoted, committed people like ourselves can band together and fight for. I’m looking forward to the day. I’m hoping that Shane and Josh will soon be standing with us, asking these questions and finding answers.

-Sarah Shourd

Community Connection:

Please check MatadorRadar for information about an upcoming Free the Hikers event in San Francisco, and visit Free the Hikers’ website for information about how you can support the release of Shane and Josh.

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