The sixth edition of OFF begins in Oslo 


By  Franchesca Jorde

Oslo–Termed as a gathering for people that act for change, the sixth edition of the ‘The Oslo Freedom Forum’ (OFF), began in Oslo on Tuesday.

According to the organisers, the two-day conference will feature over 30 speakers from 13 countries across the World, who will share their experiences and speak on pertaining issues that are threatening to destroy the fundamentals of human rights and freedom.

During, the two-day conference, ‘Defeating Dictators’, like its theme suggests will look for non-violent resistance against dictatorship regimes. “The Oslo Freedom Forum brings together dissidents to share, collaborate, and brainstorm new ideas for non-violent resistance,” said OFF founder Thor Halvorssen, before adding,“alone, human rights activists face overwhelming odds. Together, we can and will change history.”

The sixth annual Oslo Freedom Forum began with a keynote address from Egyptian comedian and television personality Bassem Youssef, leading a session—called “Ideas for Empowerment”—featuring individuals advocating for human rights from surprising perspectives.

Other keynote speakers of the day included Ukrainian activist Yulia Marushevska, Jordanian comic book creator Suleiman Bakhit, North Korean refugee Yeonmi Park, and American actor Jeffrey Wright.

After the speakers had their say there was a panel discussion on “Tyrants and Technology,” featuring white-hat hacker and Wickr founder Nico Sell, Chinese netizen Michael Anti, Ghanaian entrepreneur Mac-Jordan Degadjor, and Google Ideas associate CJ Adams, moderated by BBC presenter Philippa Thomas. Which was followed by the day’s final session, “Defying the Establishment,” that featured presentations from Chinese human rights advocate Ti-Anna Wang. Turkish performance artist Erdem Gunduz, encryption legend and Silent Circle co-founder Jon Callas, and Mexican investigative journalist Marcela Turati.

In the final session of the day, Russian rights activists Nadezdha Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina—who each served 21 months in a prison camp for performing a protest song in a Moscow church as part of the feminist protest art collective Pussy Riot—participated in an on-stage conversation with journalist Michael Moynihan.

Rounding off the day, however, was a remark penned by Thulani Maseko, a leading human rights lawyer who was unable to make it to the forum because he has been detained in a Swazi dungeon for daring to criticize his country’s absolute monarchy.

The Oslo Times

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