Natalie Project: Civil Rights Defenders Bracelet to Protect Activists

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Natalie Project

Civil rights activists have always had a dangerous job, and while it doesn’t happen often, they sometimes disappear without a trace. Kidnappings, imprisonment, and government threats are all more common, and unfortunately, it isn’t getting any better. Now, the Civil Rights Defenders have issued a bracelet that could help to mitigate the harm and disappearance of rights workers and activists around the world. Equipped with GPS and the ability to automatically sound off an alarm online if forcefully removed, the Natalie Project bracelet would definitely protect workers from vanishing without a trace.

Natalie Project

History

Natalie ProjectIn 2009, Natalia Estemirova, a Russian woman working on ‘extremely sensitive’ cases in Chechnya, was kidnapped from her home, assassinated, and found in the woods with bullet holes in the head and chest.  Her death inspired the bracelet as a method of preventing future attacks, by theoretically allowing activists to send out alerts when being attacked, which would prevent the anonymity of a killing and hopefully prevent an assassination or killing to begin with. Because of this, the project is called the ‘Natalie Project ‘. The bracelets are monitored by volunteers who are then hopefully available to leverage knowledge of where and how activists were attacked or kidnapped to help keep them safe.

Unfortunately her story is not alone, Vadim Kuramshin is a civil rights lawyer serving 12 years in prison in Kazakastan. He was arrested after giving a speech on human rights violations in Kazak prisons and the CRD now fears for his life. Civil rights defender Nazlie Bala received a death threat on March 22nd of 2013,  and Stanislav Dimitrievski was actually attacked in his home with his wife and child present.

How it Works

The Civil Rights Defenders Natalie Project bracelet features GPS tracking, via phone and sat-nav, and has the ability to send out alerts via Facebook and Twitter, as well as alerts to the CRD in the area, and CRD and other rights workers in the area. The bracelets alarm can be triggered manually but will also trigger automatically if the bracelet is removed forcefully. The alert includes a message with the GPS location, the name of the person being attacked, and other information about the wearer.

Natalie ProjectThe bracelets themselves are made up of six metal links with GPS technology built inside. The device automatically locks around the wearers arm. Colors come in black and orange and each are given a serial number which can be assigned to a specific person. No battery life or computer specifications have been released about the bracelet.

Currently 5 of the bracelets have been sent out and the Civil Rights Defenders plan on sending out another 50 to 55 more within the next 18 months. However, they do need volunteers to monitor the bracelets, funds to build them, and people to spread the word. Their theme is that ‘the world is watching’. By creating knowledge, ensuring that the world knows when something happens, and giving civil rights activists the power to alert people to their disappearance, they are hoping to lower death and disappearance rates significantly.

You can get involved by visiting natalieproject.org, tweeting #natalieproject, or volunteering your time or money for the cause. They are actively looking for donations and this bit of wearable tech could save lives.