Thursday, July 29, 2010

Free The Hikers: Five Minutes with Shane’s Mom

“When your child is in prison you do what has to be done.” ~ Cindy Hickey

Yesterday I wrote briefly about this week’s scheduled events to Free The Hikers. I felt it was an important way to paint the background for my interview Tuesday with Cindy Hickey, whose son Shane Bauer is still imprisoned in Tehran without due process. Of the three, who became friends while at Berkeley, Shane is a photojournalist who specializes in the Middle East. His work brings him to many places off the beaten path including Yemen, Darfur and Damascus as you can see at

Their outing to the Iraqi outback a year ago was not, however, a work related excursion. They were young people getting away from work, vacationing and hiking like many outdoorsy types do.

As the anniversary of their arrest approaches, numerous protest rallies have been scheduled in various communities in an effort to bring awareness to the situation. Wednesday the mothers were all flying to New York to protest in front of the Iranian Embassy. For Cindy Hickey, Shane’s mom, it will be a whirlwind trip as she flies back to Minnesota in order to attend a rally here in Duluth.

Cindy Hickey agreed to speak with me Tuesday as she prepared for this busy, important week.

E: What kind of work do you do?
CH: I've been a retired nurse who works with canine and equine athletes. I have a school where I train others to do what I do... primarily body work on animals, especially athletes or dogs with jobs. But since three months ago, this [working to free Shane and his friends] has become my full time job.

E: When your son was taken, how did you first hear of it?
CH: I was seeing a client when I got the call. My office is attached to my home. I almost hung up because I thought it was a sales call. Then I heard the word Baghdad. “We believe your son is being detained by Iranian officials.” It was indeed a call from Baghdad. I got a call from Washington 20 minutes later.

Adrenaline peaks, heart rate drops, and you do whatever you can.

E: Tell us about the trip to New York.
CH: I’m leaving tomorrow morning... Mothers are leading a protest in front of the Iranian embassy. We have not heard anything since May 21 when we were in Tehran to see our children. Iran has been asked daily. We have no access

E: When you saw them, how did they look?
CH: The doors opened. They didn’t know they were seeing us. He (Shane) was stunned....
As soon as he started talking I knew my son was still there.

He was pale, rings under his eyes, teeth discolored. They were nervous.

His biggest concern is his family and fiance and what everyone is going through back home.
A seasoned traveller, he’s not a careless person. He’s very worried about his younger sisters.... Nicole is living in Duluth.

They seemed more hopeful when they heard how people were back home thinking of them. I can’t imagine what they’ve been going through.

We requested meetings with Iranian officials but haven’t gotten them.

As the mothers boarded to go to Iran, we were told we had a week, but then it changed to 2 days with no explanation. Today I know no more than we did a year ago. I know what you know... an illegal crossing of the border. Two eyewitnesses, according to an article in The Nation, say they did not cross the border.

They seem to be pawns in the bigger game.

NOTE: Saturday's Duluth rally has been moved up from 2:30 to 1:00 p.m. I was notified that they will be gathering at the Veteran's Memorial on the Lakewalk near Fitgers instead of the Canal Park location originally announced. This is an unconfirmed notification.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cindy, I stand with you and the Families of SSJ.
"The (Lotus)Sutra states, 'If there are those who hear the Law, then not a one will fail to attain Buddhaood.' could never happen that a woman who chants Nam-myoho -renge-kyo would fail to be reunited with her beloved child.'

Nicheren Daishonen

Faithfully, Peggy.

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