Marines join hunger strike as Flint veteran protests Iran imprisonment

Amir Hekmati, a former US marine imprisoned in Iran, has started a hunger strike, his family said, after sending a letter to US President Barack Obama asking not to forget him. Hekmati told his family about the hunger strike on Tuesday after dictating his letter over the phone to his sister, Sarah Hekmati, The Associated Press reported.

In an effort to get a veteran released from an Iranian prison, a group of Marine veterans have joined Amir Hekmati in a hunger strike.

According to MLive, the veterans are aiming to free him as soon as possible and get him home to his family in Flint, Michigan.

“Marines don’t leave anyone behind,” said Nick Kaywork, a Marine veteran participating in the hunger strike. “And Amir has been left for more than three years in Iranian captivity. We can’t stand by and let another day pass quietly while he sits in prison.”

Another Marine veteran, Bryan Lane, said Marines are united in their suffering. “Throughout their entire careers, Marines are united in their suffering doing things most people aren’t willing to do,” he said. “I am striking with Amir so we can again be bound by adversity. Three years of captivity is too long for any American traveling abroad, let alone a Marine Corps veteran. I hope to inspire our elected officials to act as the leaders they are.”

Earlier in the week, a spokesman for the Hekmati family stated he had started a hunger strike.

Hekmati heard of the support by the Marine veterans and released a statement to his family December 19, via telephone. It has since been posted on the “Free Amir” Facebook page created and maintained by his family.

“Today my mother told me that men and women, some my brothers and sister from the Marines and others total strangers, are participating in a hunger strike with me as a sign of solidarity and support. I worry about you suffering, while I’m forced to suffer. She tells me others are showing their support on social media by standing beside me, not forgetting me, and even tweeting personal messages to me. Thank you.”

According to Hekmati, he remains “strong and faithful.”

“Thank you for not forgetting about me. Thank you for taking a stand against the injustice I have faced. Thank you for giving me and my family strength when we need it most. Please continue your efforts. Please continue to be my voice. Please do not let me be silenced or forgotten. I remain strong and faithful, knowing I can endure this personal hardship. That’s not my challenge. My real challenge comes from being away from my family, not being able to care for my terminally ill father and not being able to support my mother as she takes on the role of caretaker.”

Last Tuesday, Hekmati, through dictation to his family over the telephone, released an open letter to President Barack Obama.

“It is my hope that after reading this letter you, or anyone who may see this, will help end the nightmare I have been living,” the letter stated. “As you are well aware, I have been detained in Evin Prison in Iran for more than three years. … I remain confined without a fair trial and no idea or understanding of what is to be my fate.”

The White House on December 18 responded to the press about the letter. They stated they are aware of the communication and continue working to secure his release

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