As the weeks turn into months, the families of three UC Berkeley graduate students being detained in Iran don't want people to forget their loved ones. So they're taking their appeal to the most public of platforms: YouTube.
Iranian authorities detained Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal on July 31, 2009 after the trio crossed into Iran while hiking in a scenic part of Northern Iraq. The Iranian government accused them of spying and said they will put them on trial. Ther families maintain the trio was just out for a fun vacation.
The families have appealed to the Iranian government in the past but this time, they're appealing to the public and asking people to upload videos to YouTube for the Free the Hikers movement. The petition starts with a video featuring siblings of each hiker.
First off is Shane's sister, Shannon, reading an email her brother sent the day before the trio was detained. He tells her of their travels, "Don't worry. It's autonomous and totally safe ... it's fun being a tourist and not a journalist." He tells her of the trio's plan to go into the mountains, saying he he has heard of the region's beauty.
Sarah Shourd's brother, Chris, then speaks directly to the Iranian government. "Please release them and allow them to come home." He pleads. "We miss them terribly."
Alex, Josh Fattal's brother, encourages people to send in their video responses that will give all of the three hikers "the courage to stay strong" as they sit in their cells.
"Join your voice to the call to Free the Hikers," Alex Fattal says. "It's not impossible that your video could be seen and heard by Josh, Shane and Sarah and be a source of encouragement for them to endure their long and difficult detention." He also suggests the video appeal could be the thing that changes the minds of the Iranian authorites.
The siblings are eyeing Jan. 31 as a deadline for gathering videos. If they are still being held by that date -- and it's likely they will be -- it will be the six-month anniversary of the hikers' detainment.