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June 13, 2017

Activism in Prison

This brief guide was put together in 2017 to assist human rights activists who are at risk of being jailed. Rachel Lehr and Emily Sherwood at Case Western Reserve University Law School were the lead researchers under the supervision of Law Professor Avidan Cover.

This guide is split into two parts. The first section offers an overview of some techniques used by activists to help themselves and help others while they are in detention. The second section describes specific activists’ experiences.

What follows has been compiled through interviews and secondary source research. Our list of techniques is not exhaustive, nor is it intended to be a comprehensive manual for how activists might cope in jail, but should be considered a modest attempt to initiate a discussion and to prompt further useful examples or ideas for coping strategies or advocacy techniques. We are not endorsing or suggesting that activists embark on any of these if jailed. All of the techniques carry risk, and in the case of hunger striking, extreme risk. But we hope this guide will encourage activists with experience of being in jail to share useful ideas with others.

If you have suggestions for additions to this report please email HRDS@humanrightsfirst.org.

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