Natalya Lives On – Brilliant Use Of Social Media To Save Human Rights Defenders

by Michael Drew on May 20, 2013

Michael Drew · Technology · May 20, 2013

Following the abduction and murder of human rights activist Natalya Estemirova, a device has been created to help protect other human rights activists via social media networks. Estemirova was an awarding-winning human rights activist who was compiling evidence for cases aiming to expose human rights abuses in Chechnya.

On the morning of July 15, 2009, Estemirova was seen by two witnesses being screaming, and bundled into the back of a van. She was never seen alive again. Estemirova’s body was found in woodland later that day with bullet wounds in her head and chest.

This harrowing tale inspired a school project that was then picked up by the Civil Rights Defenders, a philanthropic organization based in Sweden. What has been developed is the first-assault alarm system for human rights defenders, worn as a wristband.

When the wristband’s alarm is triggered it sends out a distress signal to the Civil Rights Defenders headquarters, providing the exact time and position of the assault; people can sign up through social media to participate in monitoring the alarms of human-rights defenders and when the distress signal reaches social media platforms people can react globally and get involved.

The Natalia Project, which has gained immense support, has just been launched, providing 10 human rights defenders with the alarms. By the end of 2014 it is hoped that 55 human-rights defenders will be equipped with this vital lifeline to help protect them.

The Natalia Project has its roots firmly planted in the “We” Cycle, using social connections and relationships to look out for and save people who are risking their own lives for others. This project, in addition to s tapping into social media platforms, once again reflects the importance of connections and relationships during this cycle. As the project says itself, “With the Natalia Project human rights defenders become connected to the world.”

You can sign up for the project at


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