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.