The three American hikers - Josh Fattal, Shane Bauer and Sarah Shourd - freed after being imprisoned by Iran, addressed the Occupy Oakland camp Monday night and said they supported recent hunger strikes in California state prisons to protest conditions in isolation units and excessive gang security measures.
Having experienced the "psychological torture" of solitary confinement that the Pelican Bay State Prison prisoners are undergoing, the hikers said they understand their struggles. Fattal, 29, said he began a hunger strike the day before.
But Fattal and Bauer haven't fit the usual narrative since their release. At a press conference shortly after regaining their freedom:
Fattal began by recounting the horrible conditions of the prison in which they were held, including being kept virtually all day in a tiny cell alone and hearing other prisoners being beaten; he explained that, of everything that was done to them, “solitary confinement was the worst experience of all of our lives.” Bauer then noted that they were imprisoned due solely to what he called the “32 years of mutual hostility between America and Iran,” and said: ”the irony is that [we] oppose U.S. policies towards Iran which perpetuate this hostility.”
Fattal also made clear that while he doesn't accept his captors' justifications about U.S treatment of prisoners held at Guantanamo and elsewhere:
However, we do believe that these actions on the part of the U.S. provide an excuse for other governments – including the government of Iran – to act in kind.
And you probably also didn't read much about this in the traditional media:
Fattal then expressed “great thanks to world leaders and individuals” who worked for their release, including Hugo Chavez, the governments of Turkey and Brazil, Sean Penn, Noam Chomsky, Mohammad Ali, Cindy Sheehan, Desmond Tutu, as well as Muslims from around the world and “elements within the Iranian government,” as well as U.S. officials.
And back to this morning's report about their appearance yesterday at Occupy Oakland?
They said the Occupy movement represented the America they believe in.
"This feels like coming home," said Bauer, 29.
In Iran, of course, no such protests would be allowed. Something those that want to shut down the Occupy movement probably don't want to consider.