Hundreds of journalists around the world are currently imprisoned for nothing more than having the courage to report the facts. According to Dana Priest, the John S. and James L. Knight Chair in Public Affairs Journalism at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, the last three years have been the worst on record for the safety of journalists covering news in many parts of the world. Ever wonder what you can do to help?
Press Uncuffed, a campaign powered by students at the Phillip Merrill College of Journalism in partnership with the Committee to Protect Journalists, is helping to raise awareness of and help free imprisoned journalists by selling bracelets bearing their names. Available for $10 each on the Investigative Reporters and Editors online store, the cuff-like bracelets are made in Memphis, Tennessee with LuciteLux clear acrylic, a reminder of the importance of transparency of information.
The Press Uncuffed bracelets honor nine journalists: Ammar Abdulrasool in Bahrain, Mahmoud Abou Zeid (Shawkan) in Egypt, Reeyot Alemu in Ethiopia, Khadija Ismayilova in Azerbaijan, Bheki Makhubu in Swaziland, Ta Phong Tan in Vietnam, Jason Rezaian in Iran, Yusuf Ruzimuradov in Uzbekistan, and Ilham Tohti in China.
Created by students at the University of Maryland and their professor, Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter Dana Priest, Press Uncuffed launched a successful month-long Indiegogo campaign last April to raise funds to produce the bracelets. With the support of 292 donors, the campaign secured $31,495 to cover manufacturing and packaging costs for approximately 10,000 bracelets.
There has been some good news. According to Rosemary Ostmann, communications director with Press Uncuffed, award-winning freelance photographer Ammar Abdulrasool, who had captured many iconic images of the popular uprising against the Bahraini government that began in spring 2011, has been released early. “People who were working on his release believe it occurred in part because of the pressure of this campaign,” says Ostmann. In other news, Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, who has already been in prison nearly a year and faces 20 years in prison for gathering information, had his second of two closed hearings two weeks ago.
To purchase a bracelet, visit PressUncuffed.org where you can also learn about the individual journalists and how to support them. Visitors will be redirected to the Investigative Reporters and Editors online store to purchase the bracelets.