Oslo Freedom Forum: Three-day summit will bring together world leaders to honor human rights heroes

The Oslo Freedom Forum, taking place May 18-20 in Norway, will gather some of the world’s leading minds to celebrate heroic survivors of political oppression and persecution.

The conference, hosted by the New York-based non-profit Human Rights Foundation (HRF), will showcase leading authors from the pantheon of literature of survival. Participants include Elena Bonner and Vladimir Bukovsky, both of who braved years of Soviet brutality; Harry Wu, who endured 19 years in Chairman Mao’s Laogai; Buddhist monk Palden Gyatso, who spent 33 years in a Tibetan prison; Auschwitz survivor Elie Wiesel, who became a Nobel Laureate; Kurdish human rights activist Leyla Zana, who continues to fight for freedom of expression in Turkey; Kang Chol-Hwan, who was sent to prison by Kim Il Sung at the age of nine; Armando Valladares, who suffered 22 years in Fidel Castro’s political prisons; and Ramón José Velásquez, who was imprisoned by Venezuelan dictator Marcos Pérez Jiménez.

“This is an exceptional opportunity to learn first-hand from those who have inspired the human rights movement and to engage them in a meaningful and enlightening discussion about what motivated them to stand up to some of history’s gravest injustices,” said Thor Halvorssen, President of HRF. “Oslo will be the perfect venue to think about how the lessons of the past can help improve today’s human rights advocacy efforts.”

With a focus on civil and political rights, the summit will explore the memoirs written by these luminaries about their harrowing experiences. “Their work galvanized rights movements across the globe and exemplifies the resilience and nobility of the human spirit,” said Halvorssen.

In addition to the authors attending, the Oslo Freedom Forum will include dozens of men and women on the frontlines of the struggle for human rights and against authoritarianism. Noted participants include Darfurian doctor Mohammed Ahmed Abdallah, former Romanian President Emil Constantinescu, Reporters Without Borders Secretary General Jean-François Julliard, former Lithuanian Head of State Vytautas Landsbergis, UN Deputy High Comissioner for Refugees Craig Johnstone, Venezuelan democracy activist Leopoldo Lopez, human rights pioneer Jack Healey, bestselling author and social entrepreneur Greg Mortenson, Director of Anti-Slavery International Aidan McQuade, Belarusian human rights champion Aliaksandr Bialiatski, North Korean defector and human rights activist Park Sang Hak, and business mogul Peter Thiel.

The Oslo Freedom Forum benefits from the support of the DC-based Laogai Research Foundation, the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders, and the Frankfurt-based International Society for Human Rights. The event is made possible in large part thanks to a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

HRF is an international nonpartisan organization that centers its work on the twin concepts of freedom of self-determination and freedom from tyranny. These ideals include the belief that all human beings have the rights to speak freely, to associate with those of like mind, and to leave and enter their countries. Individuals in a free society must be accorded equal treatment and due process under law and must have the opportunity to participate in the governments of their countries. HRF’s ideals likewise find expression in the conviction that all human beings have the right to be free from arbitrary detainment or exile and from interference and coercion in matters of conscience. HRF neither supports nor condones violence.


Thor Halvorssen, Human Rights Foundation, (212) 246.8486, info@thehrf.org

For further information please visit:www.oslofreedomforum.org.