Getting free - Page 2

Bay Area artists and musicians rally to free the hikers detained in Iran

Shane Bauer (left) and Josh Fattal, both 28, have been detained in an Iranian prison for more than 540 days

In San Francisco, artists and musicians have responded in droves to a call for support. An art auction that will benefit the campaign is planned for Jan. 29, featuring the work of more than 80 artists, plus live musical performances. As a nod toward Bauer's work in photojournalism, the event will emphasize photography, and notables such as Mimi Chakrova, Taj Forer, Roberto Bear Guerra, Ken Light, the LUCEO Photo Collective, Susan Meiselas, Lianne Milton, Mark Murrmann, Alec Soth, and others have donated work. Among the artists who donated pieces are Marianne Bland, Mark Brecke, Teresa Camozzi, Andreina Davila, Eric Drooker, and former Board of Supervisors President Matt Gonzalez.

In early February, a music benefit will be held at the Bottom of the Hill to benefit the campaign. Titled "They Sing These Songs In Prison," the event will feature performances of The Nightwatchman — that's Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine — plus Jolie Holland, accordionist Jason Webley, and Ryan Harvey & Lia Rose.

"The funding is to support the campaign to free Shane and Josh, and it goes to a wide array of needs that we have, like translation into Farsi, travel for media, and meeting with some various embassies and governments that are involved in advocating for Shane and Josh's release," Shourd explained. "Also, some of the money will probably go toward legal fees, and website fees, and materials for the campaign from flyers to business cards to t-shirts."



The campaign to advocate for their release has been tagged Free the Hikers, but the identities of the three young people (Bauer and Fattal are both 28, Shourd is 32) go much deeper than that. They're social-justice advocates, antiwar activists, writers, environmentalists, travelers, and creative thinkers with deep ties to the Bay Area.

Shourd, who lives in Oakland, was teaching English to Iraqi refugees when she was in Syria, as well as practicing some journalism. Fattal, who taught at Aprovecho — an education center in Oregon focused on sustainability and permaculture — had been traveling to India, South Africa, and other places through the International Honors Program to lead workshops on health and sustainable technology before visiting his friends in Syria.

"Josh is an environmentalist, he's a teacher, he's an incredible, incredible, generous and selfless man," Shourd said. "As soon as you meet him, you feel what an extraordinary and unique human being he is. I was friends with him for years before he came to visit us in Damascus, and he decided to travel with us to Northern Iraq to Iraqi Kurdistan to learn about Kurdish culture, to see another diverse aspect of the Middle East."

Bauer wrote for publications such as The Nation, Mother Jones, and the Christian Science Monitor. A photojournalist who has won multiple awards and had his work published internationally, Bauer has documented everything from tenant conditions in San Francisco SROs to conflict-ridden regions in Africa and the Middle East. Bauer also wrote an article for the Guardian about an Oakland residence that is famous among East Bay anarchists (See "Hellarity burns," May 27, 2008).

"Shane has an incredible passion for pursuing truth and complicating our ideas about other parts of the world, about conflicts around the world and at home," Shourd noted. She added that many of his stories serve to highlight "some of the very specific ways that the U.S. presence in Iraq has taken a toll on innocent people."