Josh Fattal is one of the most inspiring, honest, and committed environmental and social
justice advocates I have met in my life. From 2005-2008 Josh brought a wellspring of
ideas and insights to Aprovecho's environmental education programs and campus. Josh
played a key role in the success of our programs and institution during his time here.
Sending Josh off on his way in 2008 was a sad moment for our organization and for our
community. Bearing this sadness, we knew that sending Josh off to share his facilitation
and leadership skills with others around the world was a natural progression of Josh's
path. Being imprisoned unjustly for 600 days in Iran without respect for due process has
certainly interrupted that journey and we are gravely concerned for his health and well-
Josh's love of the environment and his respect for all people and cultures is what brought
his explorations to the Middle East. He has spent most of his adult life exploring the rich
cultural tapestries of the world and its history. Without judgment or presumption he has
sought to make the world a better place and to find creative solutions for banishing
intolerance and suffering. There is certainly a level of irony in the fact that someone so
devoutly supportive of open communication, peace, justice, and respect sits in a prison
with his friend Shane Bauer for the absurd charge of espionage.
Today an Iranian delegation is in New York to attend the Nowruz and the Earth
Conference at the United Nations and World Water Day tomorrow. Nowruz is the Iranian
New Year and marks the first day of spring in the Iranian calendar. The coming of spring
has been celebrated across cultures since the first lunar calendars were created. Most
modern cultures have deep traditions rooted in the idea that springtime brings about a re-
birth and triumph of light over darkness. It is a time to be introspective and to let go of
things that are no longer necessary.
In 2010, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Nowruz should serve as an
opportunity for world nations to strengthen their bonds and make peace with one another.
He went on to say, "Observing Nowruz will not only promote cultural values, but it will
also help nations establish relations based on friendship, peace, justice and respect,"
In such a spirit, Aprovecho and the international community of advocates for a more
sustainable planet beseech the Islamic Republic of Iran to free Josh Fattal and Shane
Bauer immediately from their unjust detention on compassionate and humanitarian
Please free the hikers. Give them the freedom to experience the renewal and
rebirth of spring, to begin their lives again during the glorious occasion of Nowruz. Bring
forth the light from this darkness for Josh and Shane, their families, and all of us who
benefit from their inspirational work.