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Hikers Freed in Iran to Speak Tonight at Occupy Oakland

By Dan McMenamin (BCN)
Monday October 17, 2011 - 04:37:00 PM

The three University of California at Berkeley graduates who were imprisoned in Iran on espionage charges are expected to attend an "Occupy Oakland" rally this evening. 

Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal are expected to speak at 5 p.m. at the amphitheater on the north side of 14th Street just west of Broadway, where Occupy Oakland demonstrators have been holding general assemblies since last week in solidarity with New York's "Occupy Wall Street" protests. 

Shourd, 33, and Bauer and Fattal, both 29, were arrested on July 31, 2009, after embarking on a hike in Iraq's Kurdistan region near the Iranian border. Iran accused the trio of espionage but released Shourd in September 2010 because she was in poor health. 

Bauer and Fattal were sentenced in August to eight years in prison, but were released on Sept. 21 following negotiations spearheaded by Oman. 

According to the Occupy Oakland website, the three hikers will talk about the connections that can be drawn between what they went through in Iran and the situation in U.S. prisons, as well as the hunger strikes taking place in California prisons. 

The website states that this will be the first time the three will be speaking together publicly since their release. 

Across the Bay, protesters in San Francisco plan to take action today with a march that will start at 5 p.m. at Justin Herman Plaza. 

The group's website,, says the march is "for basic human rights." 

The site states, "With many basic human needs and rights not being met its (sic) time for the people to take back what is rightfully theirs." 

The march comes after a violent Sunday night in which San Francisco police fitted in riot gear arrested five protesters who had set up tents in Justin Herman Plaza. 

Police told the demonstrators that city laws prevented encampment there. When protesters refused to remove the tents, officers removed them and placed them into Department of Public Works trucks and vans. 

Four protesters were arrested for in the roadway illegally and resisting arrest, while the fifth was arrested for battery on a police officer, police said. 

San Francisco Board of Supervisors President and mayoral candidate David Chiu released a statement about the confrontation, saying "Both the Occupy SF protesters and the San Francisco Police Department need to redouble their efforts to avoid confrontations like the ones we saw last night." 

Chiu said, "As long as the Occupy SF protesters are obeying the law, the city should respect their rights of peaceful assembly and free speech." 

The anti-Wall Street protests that started in New York City in September have spread nationwide, with other Bay Area Occupy groups gathering in Berkeley, Richmond, Walnut Creek, Santa Rosa, San Rafael and other cities. 

The groups cite an economic disparity between the richest 1 percent of the population and the remaining 99 percent, and are calling for increased regulation of banks and Wall Street investment firms, among other changes.