Breaking from writing to FreeRoxana

One of the benefits to taking time off from work to write my book is that my life has become more flexible.

This week, in addition to writing and coaching my softball team, I’ve taken on a new challenge: organizing a hunger strike for Roxana Saberi.

Roxana reporting in Iran (Photo credit: Eustacio Humphrey / ZUMA Press)

Roxana reporting in Iran (Photo credit: Eustacio Humphrey / ZUMA Press)

Roxana is an Iranian-American journalist imprisoned in Iran. She was arrested in late January, and the Iranian government has since convicted her as a spy.

The 32-year-old North Dakota native, who was living, reporting and studying in Iran for six years prior to her arrest, has been on hunger strike for more than a week to protest what much of the world believes is an unfair conviction.

Several days ago, Reporters Without Borders joined her fast. Starting Sunday, the FreeRoxana campaign — made up of journalists, friends and other supporters of Roxana — will go on hunger strike, too.

I’m helping to organize the effort. More than 150 volunteers from all over the country and the world, including Iran, will fast for one day between May 3 – 14. It’s a 12-day fast because that’s how long Roxana’s personal fast has lasted. FreeRoxana campaign volunteers, however, are fasting in shifts.

Why am I doing this? Because freedom of the press is important to all of us. If it weren’t for reporters like Roxana, we wouldn’t have news out of places like Iran.

And even though I don’t know Roxana personally, we share a love for journalism, not to mention an alma mater, the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. I also enjoy reporting overseas, and it could just as well be me rotting in Tehran’s Evin prison.

Want to sign up to fast?

I’m going hungry tomorrow, Sunday, for Roxana. But don’t you worry: While all this organizing has kept me from writing, fasting won’t. Tomorrow, as my stomach is growling, I’ll be cranking out Chapter Seven.

11 Responses

  1. Good for you. I’ve been following this travesty of justice on the news. We’re fortunate to live in a country where freedom of speech is treasured, but this incident serves as a reminder of the importance of protecting and valuing our freedom.

  2. Alexis —

    What a wonderful cause. Kudos to you for your dedication and purpose.

  3. Good on you Alexis! I heard the news about Roxana and hope your President will do more to help her out. But so far I haven’t heard any news about Obama’s intervention yet.

  4. After reading your post, I will feel guilty as hell if I eat anything tomorrow. So I will be fasting with you, or at least trying to. I’m pretty weak when it comes to food. Thank you for posting the information, and best of luck with Chapter 7 tomorrow. May your creativity flow.

    alan chin
    author of Island Song.

  5. A great cause, Alexis. We risk a lot when we don’t defend freedom of the press.

  6. Great cause and great idea.

    Jennifer Taggart
    Author, Smart Mama’s Green Guide

  7. I do hope Roxana is freed – such an abhorrent act. Good luck in the fast – I’m praying that the U.S. can procure her release.

    Gayle Carline

  8. I say brava to you for championing this cause. I can’t fast with you for health/medical reasons, but my spirit is with you and all those participating.

    Strong post. Good use of hyperlinked texts, too.

  9. Good job. I’d like the media to exert as much energy over freeing one of their own as they have over the swine flu fiasco.

  10. Your post reminds me of a quote by Pastor Martin Neimoller that I got from the Museum of Tolerance in LA:

    First they came for the socialists,
    And I did not speak out because I was not a socialist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    And I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the jews,
    And I did not speak out because I was not a jew.

    Then they came for me,
    And there was no one left to speak for me.

    Kudos for you for speaking out and letting your voice be heard! If each of us does one thing about a cause or an issue that concerns us, the world will be a better place.

  11. Elegant post about an important cause and a very brave woman. Great job!

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