This article is posted to highlight a sad story. The Women For A Change Community have been supporting the families of the young people who have been imprisoned so harshly in Iran.
On 26th July last year, Emily – a UK student of Arabic – married Basel – a Palestinian artist.
They had a beautiful fairy-like wedding in Damascus, Syria. You can see it here:
Emily was helping with the Iraqi Student Project, teaching refugees at Yamouk. Her friend Sarah, from the US, was a volunteer there. Sarah came to Emily’s wedding, with her lover Shane, and their friends Josh and Shon.
Sadly, the fairy-story quickly turned into a tragedy.
The following day, Sarah, Shane, Josh and Shon set off on a much-needed holiday.
They lived their lives determined to correct negative misconceptions of the Middle East and to help repair damage done by the US government, in cultural relations. (They wrote many blogs and articles to this effect).
Their holiday took them to the mountains and waterfalls of Iraqi Kurdistan, one of the most peaceful regions – also staggeringly beautiful and increasingly popular with tourists.
On the 31st July, Sarah, Shane and Josh were hiking on a tourist trail and, it is not known what happened, but they disappeared after a brief phonecall from Shane to Shon (who was back at the hotel) to say he needed to call the US Embassy.
2 weeks later, Iran broke the news that Sarah, Shane and Josh were in Evin Prison, Tehran, on suspicion of being spies who, they claimed, had hiked across the border into Iran…
So, sadly, this beautiful wedding video now tells a very different tale.
We are working closely with the families and friends of Sarah, Shane and Josh, especially Sarah’s mother, Nora, and Shon, the ‘4th Hiker’. We have also, over the last 2 weeks, come to know Emily and Basel, who generously have allowed us to share their wedding video with the world, in order to help show dispel any last doubts that Sarah, Shane and Josh could be spies.
You may have seen in the media, 2 weeks ago, footage of the mothers visiting Sarah, Shane and Josh for the first time in Evin Prison.
In which case, you may know that Sarah and Shane announced their engagement to their mothers. Shane had woven Sarah a ring out of his shirt threads, in Evin.
‘Last Night in Syria’ shows a deeply-moving scene of Sarah and Shane dancing together.
Sarah is now in solitary confinement, and sees Shane – so we are told – for an hour a day.
Emily and Basel’s story does not yet have a happy ending either… They are also embroiled in governmental policies which means that, nearly a year later, they still live thousands of miles apart while Basel awaits permission from UK immigration authorities to join his wife in the UK.
With today’s shocking news about the Israeli governments knee-jerk reaction to the Flotilla, the two love-stories in this film become yet more poignant and symbolic of how governments and politics impact on the lives of peace-loving civilians.
For me, personally, there is the added personal element that, this day last year, I was on honeymoon in Tel Aviv. We had just spent 2 weeks with Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian friends, and made many more new friends along the way, all of whom said they wanted to be free to get on with their lives, and – importantly – to get on with each other…
Please help to share this video as widely as you can, in any way you can…
On your websites, blogs, the media, women’s magazines…
BBC Persia has already expressed interest in using some of the footage, and ABC7 in America.
further suggestions welcome.
Love, peace and gratitude to all,
Chris Crowstaff, film-maker