Participants Middle East and North Africa

Meet the congress participants

Middle East and North Africa

Masih Alinejad

Iran

Journalist and Human Rights Activist

Exiled

Omar Mohammed

Iraq

Historian./Journalist/Activism through “Mosul Eye” blog

Exiled

Fadi Elsalameen

Palestine

Non-resident fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced
International Studies

Not exiled, Lives Between Palestine and the US

Faisal Al-Mutar

Iraq

Founder of Global Conversations and Ideas Beyond Borders

Exiled, Lives in the US

Sardar Pashaei

Iran

Activist and Former Professional Wrestler

Exiled, Lives in the US

Essam Daod

Israel

Co-founder of Humanity Crew/psychiatric/mental health advocate

Not Exiled, Lives in Greece

Mohamed Soltan

Egypt

Human rights advocate/former political prisoner

Exiled, Lives in the US

Saeid Dehghan

Iran

Human rights lawyer/writer/civil rights activist

Exiled, Lives in Lithuania

Cameron Khansarinia

Iran

Policy Director | National Union for Democracy in Iran (NUFDI)

Lives in the US

Ramy Yaacoub

Egypt

Government Relations | Aerospace Engineer | Media Executive | Founder of The Tahrir Institute
for Middle East Policy

Lives in the US

Nader Nadery

Afghanistan

Former Chairman/Civil Service Commission/Peace Negotiator

Lives in Afghanistan

Ali Nazary

Afghanistan

Political advisor/ Head of Foreign Relations for the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRF)

Lives in Afghanistan

Omar Alshogre

Syria

Refugee activist

Exiled, lives in Sweden/USA

Osama Issa

Jordan

Journalist, Activist, founder and CEO of Shexomedia for Human Rights

Not Exiled, Lives in Jordan

Abdalaziz Alhamza

Syria

Journalist, Human Rights Activist

Exiled, Lives in Germany

Ammar Abdulhamid

Syria

Author, Human Rights Activist

Exiled, Lives in the US

Roya Mahboob

Afghanistan

Businesswoman, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist

Exiled, Lives in the US

Zineb El Rhazoui

Morocco

Journalist

Exiled, Lives in France

Kasra Aarabi

Iran

Non-Resident Scholar

Exiled, Lives in the UK

Navid Mohebbi

Iran

Advocacy Director at National Union for Democracy in Iran (NUFDI)

Exiled, Lives in the US

Crystal Bayat

Afghanistan

Human Rights Activist

Exiled, Lives in the US

Mouaz Moustafa

Syria

Activist, Executive Director of SETF

Exiled, Lives in the US

Enes Kanter Freedom

Turkey

Professional Basketball Player, Human Rights Activist

Lives in the US

Shahrzad Changalvaee

Iran

Artist

Not Exiled, Lives in the US

Nabhan Al Hanshi

Oman

Writer/Activist

Exiled, lives in the UK

Victor Navarro

Venezuela

Journalist and Human Rights Activist

Exiled, Lives in Argentina

Víctor Navarro is a journalist and human rights defender. In 2018 he was a political prisoner of the Nicolás Maduro regime, accused and defamed on national television by Diosdado Cabello – President of the National Assembly – of creating a terrorist cell. Víctor was arbitrarily detained by the Bolivarian Intelligence Service, detained and tortured for 5 months in El Helicoide. Currently, he is Director of the organization Voces de la Memoria, which is dedicated to the creation of innovative and technological proposals to make visible the serious violations of human rights in the world and promote actions of collective memory, understanding memory as an instrument of struggle. Similarly, he is dedicated to providing psychological and social support to victims of crimes against humanity inside and outside Venezuela. His most recent project is the “Helicoid Experience”, an immersive experience in Virtual Reality that makes visible the atrocities committed by the Maduro Regime in that torture center in Venezuela.

Fedor Krasheninnikov

Russia

Journalist/political analyst

Exiled, Lives in Lithuania

Fedor Krasheninnikov is a well-known Russian journalist and political analyst. He has been a contributing opinion writer with the business newspaper Vedomosti and the independent online publication Snob.ru. Krasheninnikov also serves as political commentator for the radio station Echo of Moscow. He has organized environmental and political campaigns in his native Yekaterinburg. Krasheninnikov co-authored the book Cloud Democracy (2012) about the internet and networks that are transforming democracy.

His latest book is After Russia (2016), a dystopian narrative.

Andréi Sánnikov

Belarus

Politician/Activist

Exiled, Lives in Poland

Andrei Sánnikov is a Belarussian politician in exile. In the early 1990s, he headed the Belarusian delegation on Nuclear and Conventional Weapons Armament Negotiations. He also served as a Belarusian diplomat to Switzerland. From 1995 to 1996, he served as Deputy Foreign Minister of Belarus, resigning in 1996 as a form of political protest. He co-founded the civil action Charter 97 and the Civil campaign “European Belarus”. He was awarded the Bruno Kreisky Prize in 2005. Sannikov was a candidate at the 2010 presidential election in Belarus, and had the second highest percentage of the popular votes after incumbent Alexander Lukashenko.
He was arrested together with his wife, noted journalist Iryna Khalip, and incarcerated in a Minsk KGB facility for peacefully protesting at a demonstration after the elections. Sannikov was beaten by police, tortured, and held incommunicated for two months. Amnesty International recognized him as a prisoner of conscience. Sannikov was in grave danger of murder and injury while incarcerated, and was being pressured by authorities to leave politics. After 16 months in prison, Sannikov was released in April 2012. Since then he has lived in Europe.

Tut Riek Jikany

South Sudan

Opposition Leader, Representative

Lives in the US

In 2014, Tut Riek Jikany joined the opposition parties against the violence and injustice done to the people of South Sudan. He was part of the 2015 advance team protocol ensuring that the 2015 Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan(ARCSS) was implemented. He also served as a translator during the United Nation session in 2015 on sexual violence in wartorn areas. Mr. Jikany was specifically assigned to translate English into local language in Pagak, Upper Nile. He is currently living in the United States, where he is also a citizen. Currently, he is the Representative to the United States for Reformists led by Hon. Duer Tut Duer the chairman of SPLM-IO the Reformists. This is a faction in South Sudan advocating for the right of the people of South Sudan to elect their own leader, establish a hybrid court, and reform the constitution and judicial system in South Sudan.

Jongkor Mayol

South Sudan

Chairman/Social Justice Advocate at Sudanese Community

Exiled, Lives in the US

Jongkor Mayol graduated from the University of Utah in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in political science with an emphasis in state and local government. He has written and published a book titled; Displaced Child has a Dream. He is a political, social activist, and Founder of Concerned Citizens of South Sudan forum. This is a weekly problem live on Facebook/ YouTube. Mr Mayol is also spokesperson for United Citizens for Change, a nonviolent political movement intending to bring a drastic change in South Sudan.

Peter Biar Ajak

South Sudan

Peace activist/scholar/former political prisoner

Exiled, Lives in the US

Peter Biar Ajak is a South Sudanese peace activist, scholar, and former political prisoner.
Determined to help South Sudan develop and succeed, Ajak returned to his country after completing his degree at Harvard. He became the World Bank’s In-Country Economist and advised the government on the economic development of the country. Ajak joined the Government as Senior Advisor to the Minister of National Security. In January 2012, he founded the Center for Strategic Analyses and Research (C-SAR) – an independent policy think tank in Juba. Prior to his arrest, Ajak served as a political economy analyst for UNICEF from 2017 to 2018.
It seemed that Ajak was being targeted as a result of his civil society work and advocacy for human rights and political change. On August 15, 2018, his lawyers were informed he was being investigated on potential charges of treason and terrorism. He was released from jail and now resides in the United States, where he continues to advocate for peace and democracy in South Sudan. While in the United States, he has served as a visiting fellow at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies and a Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy.

Hager Eissa

Sudan

Activist, Public Speaker and Ambassador at Global peace Chain

Exiled, Lives in the UK

Hager Eissa is an experienced translator and an interpreter. She is a public speaker and Human Rights activist with a demonstrated history of working in the Volunteer and education promotion industry. She is the founder of her own NGO called English language Development in Sudan. She is also a Co-Founder of a small community group. Hager was a delegate as she represented Sudan at the Global Peace Chain Summit in Ukraine which was organized by Global Peace Chain. She has participated in some peace promotion conferences and events as well.

Joey Siu

Hong Kong

Human Rights Advocate

Exiled, Lives in the US

Joey Siu is a Hongkongese-American human rights activist. She currently works at an international non-profit organization focused on international developments where she covers Hong Kong, Taiwan and China illiberal influence related issues. She previously served as a
policy advisor at Hong Kong Watch, and an advisor to the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC). She played a key part in the Hong Kong protests of 2019, before being forced to flee her city following continuous online and physical harassment and threats.
Siu is a fierce advocate for human rights in Hong Kong, East Turkestan, Tibet and other Chinese regions. She writes on U.S.-China relations as well as Hong Kong politics. Siu has testified frequently before the U.S. Congress, and the Canadian Parliament. She was arrested and detained in Athens in October 2021 for protesting the Beijing 2022 Olympics.

Benjamin Wani

South Sudan

Human Rights/Pro Democracy Activist

Not Exiled, Lives in South Sudan

Benjamin Wani’s struggle for democracy, freedom, and human rights dates to the early 1990s in Khartoum as a student leader. At the time, the struggle was to fight the injustices by Khartoum Junta Led by Omer Al Bashir against the South Sudanese and other marginalized areas (the Nuba mountains, Dar fur and Southern Blue Nile region). In addition, Mr. Wani worked with Human Right lawyers to identify and advocate for the victims of the 1992 Juba incidents. Government crackdowns on the victims of that massacre led to mass disappearances of officials and civilians whose loved ones are unable find information about the remains or whereabouts of the murdered, even today. After the independence of South Sudan and commencement of the current senseless conflict in the country, he is again working with others to spearhead the Non-violent struggle to bring about durable peace in the country and stop the unnecessary killings.

Diing Deng Mou Aguer

South Sudan

Activist

Exiled, Lives in Kenya

Diing Deng Mou was born on April 16 1986 in Sudan. He is a former child soldier, trader and a teacher. He joined the SPLA at age 12 in 1998 as a child soldier, and was demobilized from the army in 2001 by UNICEF in collaboration with Save the Children Fund and Demobilization, disarmament and Rehabilitation (DDR). This made him develop a moral zeal and sense of justice at the early ages. His efforts are in advocating for social justice and good governance. He calls for the full spectrum of rights and responsibilities for all citizens. “I believe, there are no hierarchies, tribes or even gender in citizenship. Both men and women, young and old are citizens, they should be allowed by law to participate by the Merit.” Mr. Mou went through arbitrary detention twice in 2018 and 2019. He is currently in Exile in Kenya.
He continues to fight to build solidarity through citizenship, and believes citizenship is the concept that will bind all South Sudanese together. “Before elites used ethnicity as a wedge to keep us blind to the looting of our natural resources and constitutional rights, the people of South Sudan lived in harmony with one another. We’re able to rebuild that harmony through building solidarity among all social groups.” His ultimate goal is to see the most inclusive form of government that protects human rights, the form of government that reflects the true character of the people of South Sudan and imbues accountability in public servants.

Essam Daod

Israel

Co-founder of Humanity Crew/psychiatric/mental health advocate

Not Exiled, Lives in Greece

Essam Daod is a psychiatrist and psychoanalytic psychotherapist who grew up in Israel in a small Arab Palestinian village in the Galilee. He specialized in child and adolescent psychiatry and graduated from psychoanalytic school. In 2015, he flew to Greece for a humanitarian rescue mission where he co-founded Humanity Crew and has been working with refugees ever since.
Humanity Crew specializes in the provision of psychological aid to refugees and people in crises, working to deploy mental health and psychosocial support to displaced populations in order to improve their wellbeing, to restore order in their lives, and to prevent further psychological escalation.
Currently, he is an avid refugee mental health activist and researcher who has spoken at countless conferences and media outlets all over the world advocating for the importance of mental health support for refugees. In 2016 Essam and Humanity Crew were awarded “The Defenders of Refugee Rights Award ” at the 4th Edition of Cities Defending Human Rights in Barcelona. In 2018, he became a WHO mental health expert team member, and a TED Fellow.

Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit

Thailand

Politician

Not Exiled, Lives in Thailand

Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit is a Thai politician who served as the leader of the Future Forward Party until the party dissolved in 2020. From 2002 to early-2018, Thanathorn was the vice president of the Thai Summit Group, Thailand’s largest auto parts manufacturer. Thanathorn co-founded the Future Forward Party in March 2018. He was unanimously elected as the party’s leader during its first public meeting in May 2018.
Thanathorn founded the Progressive Movement with Piyabutr Saengkanokkul after their party dissolved. In January 2021, he was charged with lèse-majesté after criticizing government mismanagement of COVID-19 vaccination. He charged that the government was relying too much on the AstraZeneca vaccine which Siam Bioscience, owned by the King, supplies the most. On January 18, 2021, the Royal Thai Police charged him for defaming the government through a live stream on Facebook. Later, Puttipong Punnakanta filed the charge through Technology Crime Suppression Division and the court ordered taking the video down. Later, in August 2021, Thanathorn faced two more lèse-majesté charges for the same act.

Natalya Radina

Belarus

Journalist/Democratic activist

Exiled, Lives in Poland

Natalya Radina is the editor-in-chief of the oldest Belarusian independent news resource Charter’97. Born in 1979 in Kobryn, the Brest region of Belarus, she studied at the Faculty of Journalism of the Belarusian State University. She worked in the largest Belarusian independent newspapers Imya, Svoboda, Narodnaya Volya, and Nasha Svoboda, subsequently closed by the authorities. Since 2001 Natallia has been the editor of the Charter’97 website, and in 2010 she became its editor-in-chief. She is also the CEO of the Karta-97 Foundation (Poland).
In Belarus, Natallia Radzina was persecuted for her journalistic activities. After the presidential elections in 2010, she was arrested and placed in a KGB detention center. She was charged under the criminal article “organization of mass riots”, and faced up to 15 years in prison. After two months in the KGB detention center, where the journalist was tortured, she was under a non-leave obligation, which in fact was a house arrest, for another two months.
Natallia was forbidden to live in Minsk, and sent to Kobryn. She fled from Belarus in April 2011 and illegally crossed the border without documents, as her passport was confiscated by the KGB.
She Obtained political asylum in Lithuania. Natallia is currently working from Warsaw (Poland).
Natallia Radzina is the winner of the award presented by the Committee to Protect Journalists (USA) in the nomination “For Courage in the Profession”, and the Reporters Without Borders. She was also awarded the medal of the government of the Belarusian People’s Republic.

Elena Kotenochkina

Russia

Head of the Krasnoselsky municipal district

Exiled, Lives in Lithuania

Elena Kotenochkina was a deputy on the Krasnoselsky District Council in Moscow.
Kotenochkina called Russia a “fascist state” during a recent council meeting, which was videotaped and posted on YouTube. The video came to the attention of Russian State Duma deputy Oleg Leonov, who denounced Kotenochkina to the authorities. The security forces have also included in her case file a video for draft-age young men that she made in her capacity as district council chair and co-chair of the district’s draft board.
In the video, she explained that conscripts were being sent into combat in Ukraine, but by law they were not required to sign the contracts that made their combat deployment there possible.
Although she has not been formally charged with any crime (an official “inquiry” into her actions is underway), loyalist politicians like Leonov are making a fuss that might lead to her being charged, especially as she is a well-known opposition politician in Moscow. The nationally known opposition stalwart Ilya Yashin, shown in the footage, is a deputy of the same district council and her ally. He has pointedly chosen to stay in Russia and speak out publicly against the war.

Mohamed Soltan

Egypt

Human rights advocate/former political prisoner

Exiled, Lives in the US

When Mohamed Soltan studies the complexities of international relations in class, he has a deep understanding of what is at stake. The Master of Science in Foreign Service at Georgetown University student spent nearly two years as a political prisoner in what he describes as “an Egyptian dungeon” before diplomatic efforts by international human rights agencies, the Obama administration and Congress helped to secure his release.
When he was deported back to the U.S. in 2015, he had spent 489 days on hunger strike, which he began in protest of the torture and inhumane treatment he experienced while detained. Shortly after his release, Soltan founded The Freedom Initiative, an advocacy non-profit organization that supports political prisoners in the Arab world through casework support, government and public relations and legal action. “If the seemingly impossible mission of getting me released was within reach, then we owed it to the 60,000 others who were still in prison to continue and build on that work,” he says of his motivation for founding the organization. As one of the world’s leading voices for justice for political prisoners, Soltan turned to SFS to develop the skills and network to further what he considers his life’s work: advancing democracy and human rights.

Meron Estefanos

Eritrea

Journalist and Human Rights Activist

Not Exiled, Lives in Eritrea

Meron Estefanos is an Eritrean journalist and human rights activist. She is a contributor to the leading Eritrean diaspora news site Asmarino and a presenter for Radio Erena (Tigrinya for “Our Eritrea”). Estefanos is the co-founder of the International Commission on Eritrean Refugees, an advocacy organization for the rights of Eritrean refugees, victims of trafficking, and victims of torture. She actively campaigns for freedom and democracy in her country, which has suffered under the dictatorship of Isaias Afwerki since 1993. She has been threatened and harassed for her work, especially for her coverage of the case of Dawit Isaak, a Swedish-Eritrean journalist imprisoned without charge for more than ten years in Eritrea.

Sardar Pashaei

Iran

Activist and Former Professional Wrestler

Exiled, Lives in the US

Sardar Pashaei is an Iranian wrestling champion turned activist. Pashaei headed a campaign to free Navid Afkari, an Iranian protest leader who was arrested on fabricated charges of murdering a security guard.Tragically, this did not work and Afkari was executed by the regime in 2021. Before his death, Afkari was tortured and made a forced confession; but these charges have been largely discredited by the international community at large. Masih Alinejad strongly denounced this entire situation. Sardar went into exile in the United States and continues to campaign for human rights in Iran.

Wu’er Kaixi

China

Former Tiananmen Student Leader, General Secretary of Taiwan Parliamentary Human Rights Commission

Exiled, Lives in Taiwan

Wu’er Kaixi was born in China in 1968, an Uyghur national. He was one of the founders and key organizers of the 1989 Tiananmen student movement. Listed as number 2 among the Chinese government’s most wanted student leaders after the June 4 massacre, he fled the country and started his exile life. Currently, he lives in Taiwan, where he remains as an active Human Rights and democracy activist and a celebrated political commentator and columnist. He serves as the General Secretary of the Taiwan Parliamentary Human Rights Commission, Emeritus Board member of Reporters Without Borders, Honorary President of the Ilham Tohti Institute, Honorary Chairman for the Campaign for Uyghurs.

Mabor Tut

South Sudan

President of the Red Card Movement RCM

Exiled, Lives in Australia

Mabor Tut is the president of Red Card Movement (RCM) which is a civil rights movement established to rebuild and safeguard a fair, free, and open society in which they seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality, and fraternity. The Red Card Movement first received attention in 2019 when it planned to carry out protests in Juba (South Sudan) and other parts of the world for President Salva kiir to leave power. Mr. Salva Kiir’s government has been accused of corruption and human rights violations, all while hunger, disease, and poverty are rampant.
Mr. Tut’s RCM is determined to coordinate with other civil society initiatives in and beyond South Sudan to facilitate a democratic transition.

Dorjee Tseten

Tibet

Member of Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile

Exiled, Lives in India

Dorjee Tseten is a Tibetan youth leader, who has successfully garnered many Tibet supporters including Indian college students and international students by spreading awareness on Tibet’s issue on international platforms. He has traveled to over ten countries educating thousands of people on the non-violent struggle of Tibetans. Mr. Tseten was previously elected to the 16th Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile. He is currently a member of the 17th Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile from Dhotoe province as well as the Director of the SFT international.

Belabbés Benkredda

Germany

Writer/Television Commentator/ Government Consultant

Exiled, Lives in Lithuania

Belabbés Benkredda is a German-Algerian social innovator, writer, television commentator, and government consultant who specializes in public diplomacy. He is the founder of The Munathara Initiative, an Arab online and television debate forum that promotes the voices of youth, women and marginalized communities in the Arab public.He was a recipient of the 2013 Democracy Award of the National Democratic Institute, and is a Fellow of the Salzburg Global Seminar. In 2016, he was named a World Fellow by Yale University. He has contributed commentary on Arab affairs to a number of international media, including Aljazeera TV, Spiegel Online, and the New York Times. Mr. Benkredda is one of the founders of the Berlin-based think tank Candid Foundation.In 2019. He also co-initiated Tunisia’s first-ever televised candidate debate in the run-up to the 2019 Tunisian presidential election.

Saeid Dehghan

Iran

Human rights lawyer/writer/civil rights activist

Exiled, Lives in Lithuania

Saeid Dehghan is an Iranian Human Rights Lawyer and Civil Rights activist. He is an active member of the International Bar Association (IBA) and Iran Central Bar Association (ICBA). He is the director of the Iran Human Rights Oral History Project. He has taught human rights courses at bar associations and academic institutions around the world and has served as lead counsel in high-profile cases in the Islamic Republic including French tourist Benjamin Brièreand, Iranian-French academic Fariba Adelkhah, and French academic Roland Marshall.
Deghan is frequently quoted on high-profile cases in Iran by international media outlets, including the case of Vahid Afkari, the brother of Navid Afkari, a champion Iranian wrestler who was executed in Shiraz, Iran, in September 2020. In December 2019, he accepted the Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law on behalf of imprisoned human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh at the French Embassy in Tehran.

Ivan Tyutrin

Russia

Member of the standing committee of the Free Russia Forum/mentor of the Regional Activist Network Program

Exiled, Lives in Lithuania

Ivan Tyutrin is the co-founder of the Free Russia Forum. This is a conference of the Russian opposition, held twice a year in Vilnius (Lithuania). The Forum sets itself the task of forming an intellectual alternative to the current political regime in Russia, and organizes to promote unity and cohesiveness among the opposition. Mr. Tyutrin has helped to organize mass protests against the Russian regime. He was also active in the United Civil Front, a social movement which seeks to uphold Liberal Democracy in Russia, and was also executive director of “Solidarnost” a social democratic movement with similar aims.

Cameron Khansarinia

Iran

Policy Director | National Union for Democracy in Iran (NUFDI)

Lives in the US

Cameron Khansarinia is the Policy Director of the National Union for Democracy in Iran (NUFDI) a non-partisan, non-profit organization of Iranian-Americans promoting secular democracy and human rights in Iran. The organization is based in Washington, DC. As Policy Director, he heads research and writing, advocacy efforts in the policymaking community, media relations, legislative efforts, and special projects. He maintains contact with the Iranian-American community and Iranian democracy activists across the political spectrum.

Ramy Yaacoub

Egypt

Government Relations | Aerospace Engineer | Media Executive | Founder of The Tahrir Institute
for Middle East Policy

Lives in the US

Ramy Yaacoub is the Executive Director of TIMEP. He is commentator and contributor to The Atlantic, Foreign Policy, CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, and other major news outlets on Egyptian politics and US foreign policy in the Middle East. He is the former Chief of Staff for the Free Egyptians Party (FEP) and senior advisor to Party founder Naguib Sawiris. He was also a member of the national security team for US Senator Bill Nelson.

Mohamed Nagi Alassam

Sudan

Doctor/pro-democracy activist

Not Exiled, Lives in Sudan

Mohamed Nagi Alassam is a 28-year-old medical doctor who helped lead the longest doctors’ strike in history during the Sudanese revolution, which continued until the fall of Omar Al-Bashir’s regime. Alassam then became the spokesperson and member of the executive committee of the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which played a pivotal role in mobilizing and organizing the public in Sudan in a peaceful revolution. He was arrested on January 4, 2019 after becoming the first member of the SPA to come out publicly. He was released after 98 days in prison. After his release, he represented the SPA in the civilian-military internationally-mediated negotiation process leading to the transitional constitutional document paving the way for a power sharing agreement.

Jianli Yang

China

Human Rights Activist

Exiled, Lives in the US

Jianli Yang, a Tiananmen Square activist in 1989, came to the United States, earned two Phds (Ph.D., Political Economy, Harvard University and Ph.D. Mathematics,University of California, Berkeley), and then founded the Foundation for China in the 21st Century. Given his political activism, he was blacklisted by the government of the People’s Republic of China, which also refused to renew his passport. He has been a guest speaker at the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy on several occasions, and is founder of the NGO Initiatives for China, a US-based organization dedicated to working for a peaceful transition to democracy in China. Mr. Yang also established the Foundation for China in the 21st Century. During 2016, he organized an Interfaith Conference of China’s ethnic and religious minorities in Dharamshala, India, which is home to the Dalai Lama’s residence and the headquarters of the Central Tibetan Administration (the Tibetan government in exile). The conference has brought together representatives of the Uyghurs, Mongolians, Christians, Falun Gong, as well as the people of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau. In March 2018, Yang was invited to speak by advocacy group UN Watch in the UN Human Rights Council but Chinese diplomat Chen Cheng repeatedly interrupted in a failed attempt to halt the address. In his talk, Yang questioned the Chinese Communist Party’s right to represent China at the United Nations, and criticized its human rights abuses.

Carmen Lau

Hong Kong

Lawyer, Pro-Democracy Activist

Exiled, Lives in UK

Carmed Lau was a legislative assistant for a now detained pro-democratic lawmaker (he preferred not to be named) in Hong Kong since 2018 after she graduated. During the 2019 Hong Kong Democratic Movement, she was one of the pro-democratic challengers who was elected as a district councilor. She served as a district councilor from 1 January 2020 until 8 June 2021, when the oath-taking controversy occurred and she refused to take the oath and resigned.
Government’s suppression of the pro-democratic camp was serious by that time. As a district councilor and the vice secretary-general of Civic Party, the pressure didn’t only come from the oath-taking procedure but also suspected to be accused under the newly-enacted National Security Law. Therefore, after a deep discussion with her family, Lau fled to the UK in July 2021.
In December 2021, along with 4 other Hong Kong activists, she was wanted by ICAC over “blank votes incitement” during the Legislative Council elections. A warrant was issued by the court.
Currently, she works as the Communications and Media Officer for a human right organization the 29 Principles, which advocates for Chinese and Hong Kong human right lawyers issues. She is also an Outreach Coordinator for Hongkongers in Britain to help Hong Kong diasporas in the UK and rebuilding Hongkongers’ civil society overseas.

Nader Nadery

Afghanistan

Former Chairman/Civil Service Commission/Peace Negotiator

Lives in Afghanistan

Nader Nadery was one of Afghanistan’s top negotiators in peace talks with the Taliban. A human rights and democracy activist, and a government official, Mr. Nadery had spent his career building up Afghan institutions and training the professionals to run them, always with one aim in mind: to help save the country from the cycle of coups and military takeovers that had long kept Afghanistan from prospering. Mr. Nadery lived through the chaos of the civil war while in high school in the early 1990s. As a law student at Kabul University when the Taliban imposed their draconian rule for the first time in the late 1990s, he was detained and tortured for three months for his activism. After the American-led invasion in 2001, he was at the forefront of the drive for democratic change. He was an observer at a conference in Bonn, Germany, about the shape of a post-Taliban government and a representative at subsequent assemblies that agreed on a road map and a Constitution to govern Afghanistan.
Mr. Nadery went on to serve as a commissioner of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and founded the Free and Fair Elections Forum of Afghanistan, an independent monitoring organization. He joined Mr. Ghani’s administration, eventually serving as the chairman of the Civil Service Commission, where he put in place for the first time in Afghanistan a national, merit-based appointment system. In 2020 he joined negotiators on the Afghan peace process.

Rosa María Payá

Cuba

Activist for freedom and human rights

Not Exiled, Lives in the US

Rosa María Payá Acevedo is a Cuban democracy activist and human rights defender. In 2015, she founded the citizen initiative Cuba Decide, a movement in favor of changing the political and economic systems in Cuba towards democracy, through a plebiscite. She is the daughter of the late Oswaldo Payá, the recipient of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize and two-time nominee of the Nobel Peace Prize, who was killed by the regime in 2012. Rosa María is a graduate of Physics at the University of Havana and of the Global Competitive Leadership program at Georgetown University. She has been a lecturer and guest of honor at various universities throughout the United States and Latin America, as well as at the UN, the OAS, the Concordia Summit of the Americas, the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, the Freedom Forum, World Democracy Movement Global Assembly, the US Congress, and multiple parliaments in Europe and the Americas. In recent years, she has been a contributor to a number of periodical publications of global relevance, including The Washington Post, CNN, FOX, MSNBC and Al-Jazeera.

Timothy Lee

Hong Kong

Non-affiliated Hong Kong pro-democracy activist

Exiled, Lives in the UK

Timothy Lee is one of the last democratically elected councilors in Hong Kong. Ousted from office and in exile since 2021, he remains an outspoken advocate for the causes of Hong Kong restoration of democracy, liberty and Hongkongers’ deprived right to self-determination.

Dolkun Isa

Uyghur

Uyghur politician/activist/Current president of the World Uyghur Congress

Exiled

Dolkun Isa is a former student-leader of the pro-democracy demonstrations at Xinjiang University. He founded the Students’ Science and Culture Union at the university in 1987 and worked on programs to eliminate illiteracy, to promote science, and to lead other students in East Turkestan. He was then dismissed from university but completed his physics degree via independent study, and went on to receive a Master’s degree in Politics and Sociology from Gazi University in Turkey and a degree in Computer Science in Munich, Germany. After enduring persecution from the Chinese government, Isa fled China in 1994 and sought asylum in Europe, becoming a citizen of Germany in 2006.
In November 1996, he played an important role in establishing the World Uyghur Youth Congress in Germany and served as Executive Chairman and President. In April 2004, he also played an important role in the establishment of the World Uyghur Congress through the merger of the East Turkestan National Congress and the World Uyghur Youth Congress and was elected General Secretary. He has since been presenting Uyghur human rights issues to the UN Human Rights Council, European Parliament, European governments and international human rights organizations. Dolkun Isa is the current President of the World Uyghur Congress.

Tania Bruguera

Cuba

Artist/Performer

Not Exiled, Lives in Cuba and the US

Tania Bruguera was born in 1968 in Havana, Cuba. Bruguera, a politically motivated performance artist, explores the relationship between art, activism, and social change in works that examine the social effects of political and economic power. By creating proposals and aesthetic models for others to use and adapt, she defines herself as an initiator rather than an author, and often collaborates with multiple institutions as well as many individuals so that the full realization of her artwork occurs when others adopt and perpetuate it.
She expands the definition and range of performance art, sometimes performing solo but more often staging participatory events and interactions that build on her own observations, experiences, and interpretations of the politics of repression and control. Bruguera has explored both the promise and failings of the Cuban Revolution in performances that provoke viewers to consider the political realities masked by government propaganda and mass-media interpretation.
Advancing the concept of arte útil (literally, useful art; art as a benefit and a tool), she proposes solutions to socio political problems through the implementation of art, and has developed long-term projects that include a community center and a political party for immigrants, and a school for behavior art.

Vanessa Tsehaye

Eritrea/Sweden

Human Rights Activist

Lives in the UK

Vanessa Tsehaye is a human rights activist who began protesting Eritrea’s human rights abuses when she was only 16 years old. In September 2001, her uncle, photojournalist Seyoum Tsehaye, was imprisoned alongside other vocal critics of the government. Tsehaye began campaigning for Seyoum’s release at her high school and later expanded the campaign to secondary schools and universities around the world. The campaign eventually culminated into the organization “One Day Seyoum”, that works for the release of all those unjustly imprisoned, whilst continuing its mission to give the Eritrean people a voice on the international level. The organization trains and mobilizes activists all over the world and campaigns on issues ranging from unjust imprisonments to enforced labor and migration. For her efforts, Tsehaye received the Dawik Isaak Prize in 2013 and was nominated for Index on Censorship’s Freedom of Expression Award in 2016.

Anaise Kanimba

Rwanda

Public Speaker/AdvocateSenior Associate Ridgely Walsh, LLC

Lives in the US

Anaise Kanimba survived Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, during which her father, Paul Rusesabagina, saved more than 1,200 people in his hotel. Today she is campaigning to free her father from a Rwandan prison. Ms. Kanimba is devoting her life to raising international awareness of his plight in the hopes of freeing him.

Teng Biao

China

Lecturer at the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing/ Human rights activists

Exiled, lives in the US 

Teng Biao is one of China’s most distinguished civil rights lawyers. Mr. Biao is known internationally for his defense of human rights activists, such as Chen Guangcheng and Hu Jia.
He is also an advocate for constitutional reforms to defend freedom of expression and religious freedoms within China. He pertains to the Weiquan movement, a collection of lawyers who seek to defend these civil rights through legal activism. Mr. Biao is also known for his criticism of Western companies that appease Chinese government officials to maintain access to the country’s enormous consumer market. He argues that China coerces foreigners to bend their points of view, or to self-censor in return for economic favors and access to markets. Because of his activism, Mr. Biao was arrested twice and was forced to move to the US because of Chinese government harassment and persecution. He was also a visiting scholar at Harvard Law School from (2015-16) and at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Mr. Biao is one of the founders of the Open Constitution Initiative in 2003. He is also one of the 25 leading figures on the Information and Democracy Commission launched by Reporters Without Borders.

Timothy Cho

North Korea

Human Rights activist/Inquiry Clerk at the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea.

Exiled, lives in the UK

TimTimothy Cho is a North Korean human rights activist and two-time defector. He has been imprisoned four times in North Korea and China. He fled North Korea, but was forcibly repatriated from China and was imprisoned and tortured by the regime. Despite this, he escaped once again and settled in the UK where he received a BA in International Relations and Politics from the University of Salford and an MA in International Relations and Security from the University of Liverpool. He currently works as an inquiry clerk at the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea. Here, he works to promote human rights, democracy, and security in the DPRK as well as illuminate the challenges which North Koreans face.

Anastasia Shevchenko

Russia

Human Rights activist/Inquiry Clerk at the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea.

Exiled, Lives in Lithuania

Anastasia Shevchenko is a Russian civil activist and journalist. She is the first person in Russia to have a criminal case brought against her for being a member of an “undesirable organization.” She worked as the head of the television broadcasting department for MUP RT Zarya and as the senior inspector of the organizational and territorial division of the Election Commission for the Rostov region. From 2017-2018, she was the coordinator of the Rostov branch of the Open Russia movement, a political organization which advocates for democracy and human rights. She then headed the regional branch of the Civic Initiative party. In January 2018, Anastasia Shevchenko was detained for putting up election ads in support of her party’s candidate, Ksenia Sobchak. Under Russian laws, implemented in May of 2015, the government was empowered to arbitrarily ban activities of foreign or international NGOs, under vaguely defined security pretexts and without judicial review. This enabled the government to criminalize association with such organizations. This law was deployed to ban the Open Russia movement and prosecute those associated with it.

Omar Mohammed

Iraq

Historian/Journalist/Activism through “Mosul Eye” blog

Exiled

Omar Mohammed became widely known for documenting daily life in Mosul under ISIS rule between 2003 and 2018. He traveled around the world to seek support for his city. “Mosul Eye” was a blog, written anonymously, that documented events in Mosul under the occupation of ISIS, providing citizens of Mosul and the international community with vital information and evidence of ISIS atrocities. It focuses on the recovery of Mosul, structurally as well as culturally.
Now, Mosul Eye takes on a new role, “which is to rebuild civil society, trying to support the people who stayed in the city, trying to give them a voice, because they were voiceless.” Mr. Mohammed began a long campaign traveling around the world giving speeches, lecturing and advocating at universities, institutes and other global venues. He traveled around Europe, the United States, Russia and other countries. His mission was as he stated in his several public speeches is to “Put Mosul On The Global Map.”

Nabhan Al Hanshi

Oman

Writer/Activist

Exiled, lives in the UK

Nabhan Al Hanshi is an Omani writer and activist who has lived in exile since 2012.

He started publishing works in local newspapers in 1995. In 2009, Mr. Al Hanshi began to upload his views on politics and human rights to his blog, as these views were not allowed to be printed in the local newspapers. He then began to organize peaceful protests around the country.  As a result, Mr. Al Hanshi was arrested twice; once in 2011 and once in 2012. On the second occasion, he was kidnapped by authorities at a café and held at an undisclosed location for 30 days. He was accused of insulting the Sultan Qaboos Bin Said and undermining public security.
He was imprisoned in 2012 with 35 other activists. Mr. Al Hanshi then fled into exile in 2012.Since then, he established The Omani Center for Human Rights, the first organization to publish annual reports of human rights violations in Oman. In 2014, he moved to the UK where he is living now as a political refugee.

Henry Atem

Cameroon

Executive Director at “U.S. International Center for Electoral Support” and UNAMA News

Not exiled, Lives in the US

Henry Atem is a Cameroonian pro-democracy advocate and humanitarian. He has traveled extensively to regions plagued with war, violence, and instability. When conflict in his own country erupted, he established the Atem foundation to advocate for conflict resolution, the rights of women and children, and to provide access to education and research to bring about a more effective international response to the conflict. He currently serves as the Executive Director of the United States Center for Electoral Support (USICES). He also serves as a consultant in the field of elections in developing states, fractured democracies, and countries in conflict and in post conflict environments. Throughout his career, Mr. Atem has participated in 15 international election observation missions in: Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria, Tunisia, Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya, Mexico, Brazil, Romania, and Papua New Guinea. Mr. Atem is also a contributor to the Electoral Violence Prediction Market, which tracks, assesses and monitors election violence.

Beatrice Ndefon

Cameroon

Leader in the Health Care Sector

Not exiled, Lives in Cameroon

Beatrice Ndefon is a hospital administrator in Cameroon. Deeply concerned with the future of her country, Ndefon has been subjected to threats and harassment. She is a gender activist, fighting on behalf of women and girls in Cameroon to live free from discrimination, intimidation, and oppression. This includes activism against forced and early marriages, as well as female genital mutilation. She advocates for education for girls, sexuality education, and provides psychological support for displaced women and girls. She is the CEO of the Solidarity Health foundation, a non profit organization that provides quality and accessible healthcare to vulnerable populations in Cameroon. Her activism and advocacy for human rights started after a Facebook post demanded the burning of her clinic and “everything and everybody in it” on the basis that they were treating amba patients and they are Northwesterners.

Mesud Gebeyehu Reta

Ethiopia

Executive Director, Consortium of Ethiopian Human Rights Organizations (CEHRO)

Not Exiled, Lives in Ethiopia

Mesud Gebeyehu Reta is a Lecturer of Law at Samara University (Oct 2012- present), a practicing lawyer, researcher and Human Rights Defender. Mesud has been actively engaged in the advocacy of human rights in Ethiopia since 2015. He is currently the Executive Director of the Consortium of Ethiopian Human Rights Organizations (CEHRO), the idea of which was started in 2015 with the vision of creating a platform for strong and vibrant human rights CSOs for the realization of human rights and democratic values in Ethiopia. Mesud is vice chairperson of the Ethiopian Civil Societies Forum (ECSF) board, a national forum/network that comprises CSOs working on diverse areas in Ethiopia with the mandate of creating an enabling environment for local CSOs.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Mesud’s consortium called for the Ethiopian government to implement prevention methods according to WHO standards and to take steps to protect inalienable rights, such as freedom of speech and freedom of the press. The goal was to ensure that the Ethiopian response to the pandemic emergency be based around public health issues and not be used as an excuse for authorities to encroach on civil society and human rights.
Indeed, these concerns have not been unfounded. The postponement of national elections due to the pandemic has caused civil unrest, and in turn, enabled the government to arrest opposition leaders.

Andréa Ngombet

Republic of Congo

Founder of the Sassoufit Collective/Author/Human rights and democracy advocate

Exiled, Lives in France

Andréa Ngombet was the target of physical attacks and death threats in his home country that forced into exile in France. He is the founder of the Sassoufit Collective, a Paris-based organization advocating for democracy, human rights, and anti-corruption in the Republic of the Congo and elsewhere in Africa. He is the author of several opinion papers and investigations on China’s influence in Africa and transnational kleptocracy. His work has appeared in international journals and news outlets, including the New York Times, Le Monde, Liberation, Der Spiegel, and the Guardian. In addition to his work with Sassoufit, Mr. Ngombet contributes to other projects advocating for human rights and democracy in the Congo, including the Ras-Le-Bol citizen movement, the Africtivist League, Central African Coalition against Kleptocracy, and the International Coalition for Democratic Renewal. Mr. Ngombet is a NED Reagan-fascell Fellow and a Stanford Draper Hills Fellow.

William Amanzuru

Uganda

Environmental and human rights defender and team leader at Friends of ZOKA

Not exiled, lives in Uganda

William Leslie Amanzuru is the founder of Friends of ZOKA, an organization campaigning for an end to illegal logging in Zoka Central Forest Reserve. Since learning more about the reality and effects of climate change, Mr. Amanzuru has made it his mission to combat illegal logging in Zoka Central Forest Reserve and other forests like Kei and Mountain Otce. He has exposed the connections between illegal activities in his local area and systems of corruption that feed into the illicit global lumber trade. Because of his work to expose the powerful individuals behind these illicit activities, Mr. Amanzuru has faced threats, surveillance and intimidation. His family has also been targeted as a consequence of his activism. Since 2018, Mr. Amanzuru has not lived with family, as they now live over 300 miles away for their safety and security. He was named as the winner of the EU Human Rights Defenders’Award 2019.

Zhou Fengsuo

China

Student leader during the Tiananmen Square protests

Exiled, Lives in the US

Zhou Fengsuo was a student leader during the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests where he provided medical care for the protestors. Within days, the Chinese government put him on the country’s most wanted list and he was later arrested. Zhou was imprisoned for a year but was later released due to international pressure on the regime. Due to government restrictions with passports they did not allow him to leave the country because of his involvement in protests.
However, he was eventually able to migrate to the United States where he received an MBA from the University of Chicago. He now works in the financial industry and continues his activism for Chinese liberty and many other issues that remain unresolved since the 1989 protests in China. He has been instrumental in promoting democracy through on-campus student clubs and opening dialog for elections in other countries.

Fadi Elsalameen

Palestine

Non-resident fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced
International Studies

Not exiled, Lives Between Palestine and the US

Fadi Elsalameen has been an active participant in the international organization “Seeds of Peace” since 1998. He has participated and lectured at numerous leadership summits and conferences on topics related to Middle Eastern youth, conflict resolution, and extremism.
Elsalameen was personally invited by the then-president of the US, Bill Clinton, to attend the Clinton Global Initiative in 2005. His involvement in this initiative helped secure a commitment for a political risk insurance initiative to encourage investment in Gaza after the Israeli withdrawal of 2005. As of 2021, Elsalameen has become increasingly notable as a vocal critic of the current Palestinian government. Mr. Elsalameen is also the president of the “Palestinian Security Project”, a new think tank that has been created to develop a Palestinian national security vision and strategy. He is also an adjunct senior fellow at the “American Security Project,” a Washington DC think tank that was created to develop an American national security vision and strategy for the 21st century.

Carine Kanimba

Rwanda

Public Speaker and Human Rights Advocate

Lives in the US

Carine Kanimba survived Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, during which her father, Paul Rusesabagina, saved more than 1,200 people in his hotel. Today she is campaigning to free her father from a Rwandan prison. In 2020, her father who is a Belgian citizen and U.S. Permanent Resident was forcibly rendered to Rwanda and imprisoned for speaking out against the tyranny of the man credited with ending the genocide: Paul Kagame. In 2021, Kanimba was identified as a victim of the Pegasus spyware, with Kagame’s regime suspected of being behind the attack.

Thulani Maseko

Swaziland

Human rights lawyer

Exiled

Thulani Maseko was a founder and member of “Lawyers for Human Rights” (Swaziland) until his resignation in 2018. He then founded the Institute for Democracy and Leadership. He is currently the Co-Chairperson of the Swaziland Multistakeholder Forum (MSF), an all inclusive broad-based platform struggling for peaceful and democratic reforms in Swaziland. Maseko was jailed for contempt of court after criticizing Swaziland’s judicial system in connection with articles he wrote for “Nation’s Magazine.” In the articles Maseko was denouncing the lack of judicial independence in Africa’s last absolute monarchy. He has routinely criticized the king’s control of the country’s courts, and called for a more democratic legal system in Swaziland.
In August 2014, Maseko wrote to US President Barack Obama from prison, seeking his intervention ahead of the 2014 United States–Africa Leaders Summit. Maseko was released from prison on 30 July 2015. He has been declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.

Farida Nabourema

Togo

Writer/Founder “Faure Must Go”

Exiled, moves from country to country

Farida Nabourema is a Togolese writer and blogger who began her career in activism when she was 13 years old. In 2011, Nabourema co-founded the Faure Must Go movement, which has since become a hallmark of the Togolese struggle against Faure Gnassingbé’s oppressive rule.
Today, she serves as the executive director of the Togolese Civil League, a group that mobilizes pro-democracy activists. Nabourema is also the author of “La Pression de l’oppression” (“The Pressure of Oppression”), a book of essays that discusses oppression throughout Africa and the importance of women and youth in the fight for freedom. Nabourema uses social media platforms to spread awareness about injustices in Togo and to mobilize her peers to fight for change. She has been featured in the Nobel Women’s Initiative Activist Spotlight and was recognized by the Africa Youth Awards as the 2017 Advocate of the Year.

Faisal Al-Mutar

Iraq

Founder of Global Conversations and Ideas Beyond Borders

Exiled, Lives in the US

Faisal Al-Mutar is a human rights activist, writer, and satirist who was admitted to the United States as a refugee in 2013. Al-Mutar visited Lebanon and then Malaysia where he founded the Global Secular Humanist Movement in September 2010. This organization was created “with the mission of addressing the absence of recognition and legal protections for secular humanists.” As a result of his activism, Al-Mutar received death threats from religious militias such as the Mahdi Army and elements tied to Al-Qaeda. Al-Mutar moved to New York City, where he lives and serves as the President “Ideas Beyond Borders”, an organization created with the aim of making Wikipedia pages, academic articles, and seminal works covering science, literature and philosophy available to Arabic speakers. The organization’s goal is to confront lies with logic and pit critical thinking against propaganda and fake news. He also served as a community manager for Movements.org, a platform which “allows activists from closed societies to connect directly with people around the world with skills to help them.”

Mehmet Tohti

Uyghur

Executive Director at Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project

Exiled, Lives in Canada

Mehmet Tohti is a prominent Uyghur Canadian activist, campaigning for the rights of Uyghurs for over a decade. He was born in the ancient city of Kashgar in northwest China.
Mehmet went on to study biology at Kashgar University before going on to teach the subject himself.
At the age of 26, as conditions worsened for Uyghurs, Mehmet left China for Turkey, eventually making his way to Canada. While his family has continued to suffer at the hands of the Chinese authorities, Mehmet continues to advocate for the Uyghur people. First, he worked as a co-founder and vice-president of the World Uyghur Congress and, more recently, as the executive director of the Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project, based in Ottawa.
Mehmet’s most significant achievements as an activist in exile in Canada have included lobbying the House of Commons to vote, overwhelmingly, in support of a motion to declare China’s treatment of its Uyghur minority population a genocide. Though Mehmet has been subjected to threats while working in Canada, he continues to lobby both provincial and federal governments and Canadian businesses to boycott products produced in China by Uyghur slave labour.

Felix Agbor Nkongho Balla

Cameroon

Human rights lawyer

Exiled, Lives in the US

Felix Agbor Nkongho is a Cameroonian lawyer and human rights defender. He is the director of the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa (CHRDA) and a leading advocate for human rights of Cameroonians in the conflict-stricken Anglophone region. Mr. Nkongho’s work focuses on the promotion of democracy, good governance, access to justice, and the rule of law. His reputation as a devoted human rights defender is evidenced by his tireless work for human rights in Cameroon and throughout Africa, despite state sanctioned pushback, including his arbitrary detention in 2017.

Yoani Sanchez

Cuba

Blogger, Programmer

Not exiled, Lives in Cuba

Yoani Sánchez is a Cuban blogger who has achieved international fame and multiple international awards for her critical portrayal of life in Cuba under its current government.
Sánchez helped to establish Contodos, a magazine that continues to act as a forum for Cuban free expression, and a vehicle for reporting news. Sánchez is best known for her blog, Generación Y.
Despite censorship in Cuba, she is able to publish by emailing the blog entries to friends outside the country who then post them online. The blog is translated and available in 17 languages.
Time magazine listed her as one of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2008, stating that “under the nose of a regime that has never tolerated dissent, Sánchez has practiced what paper-bound journalists in her country cannot; freedom of speech.” In November 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama wrote that her blog “provides the world a unique window into the realities of daily life in Cuba” and applauded her efforts to “empower fellow Cubans to express themselves through the use of technology.”

María Laura Alvarado

Nicaragua

Member of the political council of the Unidad Nacional Azul y Blanco

Not exiled, Lives in Nicaragua

María Laura Alvarado is a member of the political council of Unidad Nacional Azul y Blanco. She has been a social volunteer in a variety of humanitarian projects such as Run for Water. Alvarado has also been involved in the construction of recreational spaces in Nicaragua, as well as the strengthening of territorial leadership throughout the country in person and virtually. Today, she is the Secretary of the youth sector of the UNAB.

Kitty Monterrey

Nicaragua

President of the Citizens for Liberty Party

Exiled, Lives in Costa Rica

Kitty Monterrey is the National President of the Party: Citizens for Liberty in Nicaragua.
Following a successful professional career both in the United States and in Nicaragua, in 2005 she actively supported Eduardo Montealegre in founding a new liberal political party.
Monterrey held the position of Executive Director until 2016, when the legal representation for the Party was revoked by the government, in an effort to suppress all liberal opposition.
Following that year’s fraudulent elections and with the support of thousands of their former members, she founded her new Party, Citizens for Liberty (CxL). Nicaragua is suffering the worst suppression of the last decades with a death toll of almost 500, thousands in prison or in exile and constant violation of human rights. Therefore her priority, if elected a vice president of the LI Bureau, would be to ensure all nations are aware of their struggle against the so-called Socialism of the 21st Century, as well as dedicating all her efforts to the liberal cause for freedom and democracy.

Carolina Barrero

Cuba

Art Historian and Activist

Not exiled, Lives in Cuba

Carolina Barrero is an art historian, activist, and human rights advocate for the end of violence and authoritarianism, for peace and respect for civil and political rights. She took part in the protest movement that challenged Cuba’s totalitarian regime in 2021 as a member of the 27N movement of artists and intellectuals.

Manuel Cuesta Morúa

Cuba

Founder of Progressivist Arc

Not exiled, Lives in Cuba

Manuel Cuesta Morúa was born on December 31, 1962, in Havana. Currently, he is one of the most important Cuban political opponents in the country. He studied History, Political Science, and International Relations at the University of Havana. In 1991, he joined the group “Cuban Democratic Socialist Current” [Corriente Socialista Democrática Cubana], and in 1996, he was named General Secretary. In 2002, he founded “Progressive Arc” [Arco Progresista], an organization that unites the socio-democratic groups in Cuba and abroad. One of the initiatives of the “Progressive Arc” is “Platform Other 18” [Otro 18], which supported independent candidates in the 2018 elections in Cuba after Raúl Castro announced his abandonment of the presidency.
Nowadays, Manuel continues in his activities on electoral reform and support of citizen platforms. He resides in Havana.

Ariel Ruiz Urquiola

Cuba

Environmentalist, biologist, and Breast Cancer/LGBTQ+ activist

Lives in Switzerland

Ariel Ruiz Urquiola is a Cuban farmer and former biologist, professor, and researcher at the University of Havana. He denounced unsustainable fishing practices of sea turtles, and started a hunger and thirst strike to obtain cancer treatment for his sister and other breast cancer patients.
As a result, he was fired from his professional life. Having become a farmer and denouncing the mismanagement of natural resources and precarious living conditions in rural settlements, he was arrested in 2018. He was unjustly sentenced to twelve months in prison. At a public hospital, he was deliberately infected with HIV, and was later released from prison following another hunger and thirst strike. Today, he continues to be an environmentalist and activist condemning the Cuban regime’s systemic repression.

Santiago Urbina

Nicaragua

Journalist/Activist for freedom in Nicaragua

Exiled, Lives in Spain

Santiago Urbina is an expert in international affairs and strategic communications. In this capacity, he has been advocating for Nicaragua with international institutions and governments around the world, including the Organization of American States (OAS) and the European Parliament. He is also a member and facilitator of the International Relations Committee of the Unidad Azul y Blanco (UNAB).

Victoria Cardenas

Nicaragua

Activist and Businesswoman

Exiled

Victoria Cárdenas is the wife of Nicaraguan presidential candidate and political prisoner Juan Sebastián Chamorro.

Since her husband’s imprisonment, Cárdenas has been her husband’s main advocate. Since being in exile, she has participated in dozens of forums, meetings and sit-ins to demand the freedom of her husband and all the political prisoners of the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo. She recently participated in a forum in Los Angeles: “Why are they prisoners? People imprisoned for political reasons in Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela.”
This was organized by Race and Equality, a side-event of the Summit of the Americas. “My idea is to continue demanding freedom for my husband and all those who are unjustly locked up,” she insists.

Berta Valle

Nicaragua

Television Presenter / Human Rights Activist

Exiled, Lives in the US

Berta Valle is a Nicaraguan journalist, human rights activist, and vocal critic of the Ortega regime.

She is married to pro-democracy activist, presidential candidate, and former OFF speaker, Félix Maradiaga, who was recently imprisoned by Ortega’s regime in an unprecedented crackdown on the opposition in Nicaragua. Berta is currently in exile and campaigning to bring international attention to the regime’s abuses, including the unjust imprisonment of her husband and more than 140 political prisoners in the country.

Laritza Diversent

Cuba

Journalist/Lawyer

Exiled, Lives in the US

Laritza Diversent is a Cuban lawyer, independent journalist, and human rights defender. She serves as the executive director of Cubalex, a nonprofit organization that provides legal assistance to Cuban citizens and advocates for human rights and democracy in Cuba. Diversent also contributes to the project “Translating Cuba,” which translates articles by Cuban journalists into English in order to share stories of life under the regime with a broader audience. In 2016, Cuban officials raided Cubalex headquarters, stole hundreds of documents, and rescinded the organization’s legal authorization to work. Just before the Cubalex team fled the country, Diversent learned that Cuban authorities had opened a case against her, accusing her of breaking the law by offering legal counsel to the Cuban people, and barred her from leaving the country.
Diversent and Cubalex now work from exile in the United States. Diversent attended the seventh Summit of the Americas in Panama in 2015, and has spoken before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Pablo Díaz Espí

Cuba

Journalist/Podcaster

Exiled, Lives between Spain, Germany, the US

Pablo Díaz Espí was born in 1972 in Havana, Cuba, into a family related to the revolutionary political process. From a very young age, he perceived the politicization and oppression of the society he lived in. He became obsessed with leaving Cuba, never to return to the island. He succeeded in 1990 when he went into exile in Berlin, living in freedom after the fall of the wall and studying at a film and television school. However, work took him back to Cuba, and he reconnected with its reality. In 1999, he created the magazine Cubaencuentro with his father. In 2009, together with a group of writers exiled in Madrid, he founded his own media outlet, Diario de Cuba, which he currently directs. This has made him one of the most important figures of Cuban independent journalism in the last years.

Jorge “Tuto” Quiroga

Bolivia

Industrial engineer and politician/served as the 62nd president of Bolivia from 2001 to 2002.

Exiled, Lives in the UK

Jorge Quiroga is a former member of Nationalist Democratic Action. He previously served as the 36th vice president of Bolivia from 1997 to 2001 under Hugo Banzer and as minister of finance under Jaime Paz Zamora in 1992. During the interim government of Jeanine Áñez, he briefly served as the country’s international delegate to denounce human rights violations from 2019 to 2020. Quiroga was a candidate in the 2005 and 2014 presidential elections, in which President Evo Morales was elected for a first and third term respectively. On 2 December 2019, the interim government of Jeanine Áñez appointed Quiroga as an international delegate on a special mission to denounce human rights violations by the ousted Morales administration. He held the post for just over a month, before resigning on 8 January 2020 in order to announce his presidential candidacy for the snap elections to be held later that year. Throughout the election cycle, he remained around sixth place reaching between 1 to 2% in opinion polling and never surpassing 7%. On 11 October, one week before the scheduled election, Quiroga announced he was dropping out of the presidential race. He indicated in his withdrawal announcement that he wished to prevent an outright victory of Luis Arce of the Movement for Socialism party in the first electoral round by consolidating the right around Carlos Mesa.

Ali Nazary

Afghanistan

Political advisor/ Head of Foreign Relations for the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRF)

Lives in Afghanistan

Ali Nazary began his career in communications at Khorasan TV, hosting a weekly show on politics and current affairs in Afghanistan. He then was Director of Media Affairs for Abdullah Abdullah’s 2014 presidential campaign, and following the election, Nazary took a hiatus from politics to work as an Afghan and Central Asian government relations specialist at Bellwether Partners, overseeing international relations consulting and management projects. In 2016, he also became president of the Massoud Foundation USA, the U.S. branch of the Massoud family’s Afghan relief organization, a position he continues to hold. As tensions between the Taliban and the government grew amidst the drawback of NATO forces from Afghanistan, Nazary returned to politics as the chief of foreign relations for the anti-Taliban resistance, the National Resistance Front.

Garry Kasparov

Russia

Chess Champion and Pro-democracy activist

Exiled

Garry Kasparov is an outspoken advocate for human rights and democracy in Russia. Widely considered history’s greatest chess player, Kasparov retired from the sport in 2005, to devote his time to writing and human rights activism.
An ardent critic of Russian president Vladimir Putin, Kasparov created the United Civil Front, a social movement with the mission of preventing Russia from returning to totalitarianism. He joined The Other Russia, a pro-democracy coalition opposing Putin, and was a candidate in the 2008 Russian presidential race. He is a frequent contributor to major international publications including The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.
Kasparov is also a 2014 Templeton Leadership Fellow of the Atlas Network. In 2015 Kasparov published “Winter Is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped” which he stated was a “push back against the rising tide of repressions coming from the Kremlin.” (Washington Post, Dec. 2015). He is currently chairman of the Human Rights Foundation (HRF). Kasparov is frequently called upon to give his opinion on behalf of the HRF and is critical of both U.S. and Russian policies as well as repressive leaders throughout the world.

Evelyn Pinto Diaz

Venezuela

Pro-Democracy and Human Rights Activist

Not Exiled, Lives in Venezuela

Evelyn Pinto is a political scientist who holds a Master’s degree in Public Management. She has held institutional offices in the last legitimate institution in Venezuela as Director of Culture of the National Assembly. She is a promoter of the democratization movement in the country, and has led citizen movements such as the Francisco de Miranda Student Civic Front and the Democratic Rebellion movement. She was especially active in the 2017 civil uprising, being afterward accused by the regime on national television, which forced her into hiding in the countryside. She is currently the National Youth Secretary for Acción Democrática and a representative of her party on the strategy committee of the Unitarian Platform. She coordinates the program access for all of the A.C. Development and Justice Consortium. She is a leader of the feminist movement in Venezuela, chair of the Network of Political Women for Venezuela, and member of the support network of the Atlantic Council and of the network of political women of the Cauce Association.

Freddy Guevara

Venezuela

Politician

Exiled, Lives in USA

Freddy Guevara is a Venezuelan political leader. He was elected to the National Assembly in 2015, served as Vice President of the Parliament and a leader in the nonviolent civil resistance against Maduro in 2017, and is a key advisor to Juan Guaidó since 2019. On two occasions he was persecuted by the regime, leading him to seek asylum in the Embassy of Chile in Venezuela and be imprisoned in “El Helicoide”. In 2021 Guevara was freed after the beginning of the negotiation process with Maduro’s regime mediated by Norway. Currently, he is part of the Popular Will party started by Leopoldo López, a member of the opposition negotiation team, and a fellow of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Abdalla Hamdok

Sudan

Former Prime Minister

Lives in Sudan

Dr. Abdalla Hamdok is a Sudanese Former Prime Minister who led the Transitional Government of Sudan (2019 – 2021) during one of the most challenging periods in the recent history of the country. Following the 2019 Revolution that ousted the dictator Omar AlBashir, Sudan underwent a fragile transition to democracy, which is ongoing. Dr. Hamdok became the 15th Prime Minister of Sudan. He was ousted and kidnapped in a military coup and then reinstated. His safety has been under threat by violent actors seeking to topple democracy.
He was the target of a failed car-bombing assassination attempt in 2020. During his administration, he instituted a number of far reaching reforms, covering economics, peace, foreign policy and legal issues, including the repeal of laws restricting the rights of women.
Doubtless, Dr. Hamdok has remained a voice for democracy, good governance and development, and is actively working on addressing transitional challenges in Africa and beyond.

Génesis Dávila

Venezuela

Human Rights Lawyer

Exiled, Lives in the US

Génesis Dávila is a Venezuelan international and human lawyer from New York University.
She has worked for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the United Nations Team of Experts on the Rule of Law and Sexual Violence in Conflict. She is perhaps best known for her development of Defiende Venezuela, a pro-bono NGO dedicated to representing victims of human rights internationally. This idea won her the Georgetown University Global Impact Award. Through her organization, Dávila has represented more than 500 victims before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the International Criminal Court, and United Nations mechanisms. She has trained more than 1000 human rights defenders in documentation, activism, and international strategic litigation.

Isadora Zubillaga

Venezuela

Diplomat, Activist

Exiled, Lives in Spain

Isadora Zubillaga is a Venezuelan diplomat and pro-democracy activist. In 2019, she was designated by the Venezuelan National Assembly as the ambassador to France and was that same year appointed as deputy commissioner for Venezuelan foreign relations by the interim government of Juan Guaidó. Zubillaga is one of the founding members of the Popular Will, the same opposition party founded by Leopoldo López. Following Leopoldo’s arrest and detention by the Venezuelan government, she and her family were subjected to threats and accusations by the regime. She relocated to Spain after suffering a kidnapping. She is currently the director of Code Venezuela, an NGO dedicated to assisting the Venezuelan diaspora. Despite being forced to leave her country, Zubillaga continues to use her influence to push for a restoration of democracy.

Kasra Aarabi

Iran

Non-Resident Scholar

Exiled, Lives in the UK

Kasra Aarabi is the Iran Program Lead at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, where he specializes in Iran and Shi’a Islamist extremism. He is also a non-resident scholar at the Middle East Institute in Washington, DC. Kasra is a native Persian (Farsi) speaker and holds an MA (Hons) in international relations and a BA in international politics, both from King’s College London. He is also undertaking a PhD at the University of St Andrews, where his research focuses on Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.

Navid Mohebbi

Iran

Advocacy Director at National Union for Democracy in Iran (NUFDI)

Exiled, Lives in the US

Navid Mohebbi is a former Iranian political prisoner and longtime activist. Mohebbi was arrested by the Islamic Republic in Iran in 2010 and is recognized by the Committee to Protect Journalists as the youngest jailed journalist in the country. Since being forced into exile in the United States, he has continued his activism for a secular, democratic Iran. His writing and research has long focused on the pervasive impact of the regime’s influence network in the West.

Lyudmyla Kozlovska

Ukraine

Human Rights Activist

Exiled, Lives in Belgium

Lyudmyla Kozlovska is a Ukrainian human rights activist. She is the President and founder of the Open Dialogue Foundation, an NGO dedicated to protecting human rights, democracy, and the rule of law in post-Soviet nations. Kozlovska has been an activist since the age of 13, when she opened the first Ukrainian library in her native Sevastopol. As a teenager, she organized protests at the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. Together with activists from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan, she started the Open Dialogue Foundation, and was invited to speak at the European Parliament about human rights in the post-Soviet sphere.
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, ODF has provided Ukrainian refugees and the military with support worth €5,9 mln. The speed of Bitcoin and stablecoin USDT has been a key factor in raising emergency funds from donors in the EU and the US and to provide humanitarian aid to Ukrainians. Kozlovska presented how authoritarian and hybrid regimes disempower human rights activists, obstructing humanitarian aid for Ukraine and harassing their critics in the EU. Since 2018, ODF has been subjected to systemic politically motivated attacks, including Poland’s abuse of SIS II, misuse of mutual legal assistance mechanisms and smear media campaign. In 2022, ODF won defamation lawsuits proving that public accusations of ODF were groundless and false.

Daniil Konstantinov

Russia

Politician, lawyer, Pro-Democracy activist

Exiled, Lives in Lithuania

Daniil Konstantinov is a Russian politician, lawyer, and pro-democracy activist. As a student, he started his political activity, running for the national legislature as a self-nominee in 2005. He was active within the Russian opposition, and participated in protests demanding free and fair elections in the country. Because of his activism, he was arrested in his apartment in 2012 under fabricated accusations of domestic murder. He spent 2 years and 7 months in detention, and was subjected to torture by the regime. He was recognized as a political prisoner by a variety of international humanitarian organizations. During his imprisonment he was elected to the Coordination Council of the Russian Opposition. He was released following mounting pressure on the Russian government, and found asylum in Lithuania, where he continues to be politically active and push for democratic change in Russia. He is currently a permanent participant and organizer of the Free Russia Forum, a conference held twice a year in Vilnius by members of the Russian opposition.

Nikola Ilic

Serbia

Social Entrepreneur, Activist, Founder/CEO of ChangeLab Global

Lives in the US

Nikola Ilic is a leadership development and citizen engagement professional, Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University, social entrepreneur, and executive coach who has led and participated in various community-building and leadership development projects in government and private sectors worldwide. He is founder and CEO of ChangeLab Global, a company which focuses on pioneering innovative approaches to leadership and organizational development. He is also a board member of Serbian grass-roots movement Kreni-Promeni and leadership development co-lead of Volt Europa. In his 15 years of experience, he has worked with various organizations in Europe, the World Bank, and the Obama Foundation. His experiences growing up in war-torn Yugoslavia in the 90s propelled him to become an activist. Aged 15, he joined Otpor, a resistance movement to end the Yugoslav dictatorship. Witnessing the consequences of power hungry individuals with absolute power, Mr. Ilic has dedicated himself to establish “how we develop new leaders and help people grow, collaborate, work together by leveraging diversity as an asset.”

Crystal Bayat

Afghanistan

Human Rights Activist

Exiled, Lives in the US

Crystal Bayat is an Afghan social activist and human rights advocate known for her protests against the Taliban takeover, advocacy for women rights, and her political activism inside and outside Afghanistan. Bayat was born in 1997 in Kabul. She grew up most of her life witnessing the emergence of democracy and positive societal changes. After finishing her education in India, she returned to Afghanistan in 2020 and started the think tank, Justice and Equality Trend, and the Crystal Bayat Foundation, a human rights charity focused on helping Afghan people at risk. She was a leader in Kabul’s independence day protests after the Taliban takeover. Bayat survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban in 2020 due to her active role in peace negotiations. Bayat continues to speak to the media and at public and private events about the current geopolitical situation in Afghanistan. She is also active in helping friends, family and academic and professional colleagues achieve a collective voice against today’s inhumane treatment and poor governance by the Taliban. She is currently continuing the fight to preserve Afghan human right’s achievements as an agent of change.

Mouaz Moustafa

Syria

Activist, Executive Director of SETF

Exiled, Lives in the US

Mouaz Moustafa is a Syrian activist and the executive director of the Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF), an organization that supports the Syrian opposition movement. In his words, “The simple goal of our work is to end the atrocities that are unfolding in a place that also happens to be the place where I was born.” SETF focuses on political advocacy, legal efforts, civil governance, and humanitarian aid. Mr. Moustafa and his team regularly meet with leaders in the US Congress, the Department of State, White House, the Department of Defense, United Nations and British Parliament, among other institutions. Moustafa and his team have called for the protection of civilians in Syria.

Omer Ismail

Sudan

Politician

Not Exiled, Lives in Sudan

Omer Ismail is the Prime Minister’s Advisor for Global Partnerships and former Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs in Sudan. Before joining the transitional Sudanese government, Ismail was a humanitarian worker and activist working to publicize conditions in Darfur. He was forced to flee Sudan in 1989 after the National Islamic Front took power. He subsequently worked for the United Nations, and was a Policy Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government in the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University. During his time as Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ismail met with Swiss officials in Bern and convinced them to donate CHF 1 million (USD $1.09 million) through the United Nations’ Sudan Humanitarian Fund after the country was hit with violent floods and a three-month state of emergency was declared.

Bobi Wine

Uganda

Politician, Singer, Actor

Not Exiled, Lives in Uganda

Bobi Wine is a Ugandan actor, singer, and politician. He is a former Member of Parliament for Kyadondo County East constituency in Wakiso District, in Uganda’s Central Region. He also leads the National Unity Platform political party. In June 2019, he announced his candidacy for the 2021 elections. He participated in the 2021 election where he lost to the incumbent Yoweri Museveni, a result which Wine and a large section of the public strongly disputed. In December of 2021, he was placed on house arrest by the regime. He is noted for his humanitarian work in Uganda, initiating a number of campaigns aimed at improving hospital conditions and access to funds and supplies for the country’s poor. Currently, Bobi Wine is the Patron of a girls and teen mothers empowerment Non Government Organization called Caring Hearts Uganda, founded by his wife.

Mariya Soroka

Ukraine

Activist, Co-Founder of Razom

Not Exiled, Lives in the US

Mariya Soroka is a Ukrainian activist and co-founder of Razom, a non-profit Ukrainian-American human rights organization dedicated to supporting Ukraine in its quest for a society with “dignity, justice, and human and civil rights for all.” In 2014, during the peak of protests in the Maidan, Mariya joined several fellow Ukrainians living in New York City to create the organization which seeks to amplify the voice of Ukraine to an American audience.
She is heavily involved with fundraising for Razom’s projects via crowdsourcing, charity events, and online petitions.

Tamara Adrián

Venezuela

Politician

Not Exiled, Lives in Venezuela

Tamara Adrián is a Venezuelan politician. She is a member of the national assembly, elected in 2015. She is noted as the first transgender person elected to public office in Venezuela. A consistent campaigner for LGBT rights in her country, the situation in Venezuela has prompted Adrián to oppose the regime of Nicolás Maduro and work to restore democracy in her country.
She is a member of the Popular Will party, which was started by Leopoldo López. The widespread arrest of political activists in 2014 prompted her to seek office to combat the troubling trajectory of Venezuela.

Natalia Kaliada

Belarus

Co-founder and artistic director of Belarus Free Theatre

Exiled, Lives in the UK

Natalia Kaliada is a Belarusian pro-democracy activist and co-founder of the Belarus Free Theatre. This is an underground group which formed in response to the severe repression and censorship of Lukashenko’s regime. Since its founding in 2005, Belarus Free Theatre has performed provocative plays (often held secretly) that focus on the consequences of state repression and its accompanying culture of fear. The group has repeatedly endured harassment from Belarusian authorities. Although she was forced into exile for her work, Kaliada continues to work tirelessly to challenge the Belarusian dictatorship, continuing to connect with members of the Free Theatre and bringing the situation in Belarus to international attention.

Yury Terekhov

Russia

Writer, Opposition Leader

Lives in Lithuania

Yury Terekhov is a Russian writer and the Program Coordinator of the Personal Reserve of the Free Russia Forum, a Russian opposition conference held twice a year in Vilnius. Since 2011, Terekhov has been active in the Russian opposition, and was a member of the right-liberal movements Russian Civil Union and National Democratic Alliance. He participated in protests and rallies, and worked in elections as an activist and as a member of election commissions. He was also an international observer in elections held abroad. In 2013, he was the editor of the Rufabula independent analytical online magazine, which was shut down in Russia by a decision of the Prosecutor General’s Office in the summer of 2017. Since then, he has been active in the Free Russia Forum and seeks to bring about democratic change in Russia.

Dmitry Gudkov

Russia

Politician, Opposition Leader

Exiled

Dmitry Gudkov is a Russian politician and opposition leader. He served as a member of the state Duma from 2011-2016, and went on to become the leader of the Party of Changes, a direct opponent to Vladimir Putin. His father, Gennady Gudkov, is known as one of Putin’s fiercest, charismatic, and vocal critics. Dmitry’s political career has been inspired by his father’s, and he too has become a relentless defender of democracy in Russia. Throughout his career, Mr. Gudkov has been an outspoken defender of the rights of journalists, the right to assembly, and freedom of expression. He and his father were leaders in 2012 protests against Putin’s re-election, which expressed that the election process in Russia had been fraudulent. In June of 2021, Mr. Gudkov was arrested on arbitrary charges of “causing property damage by deception or breach of trust.” Upon his release, he relocated to Ukraine, and has remained a consistent critic and opponent of Putin and his United Russia Party.

Alejandro Cajas

Cuba

Public Servant, Non-Profit Manager

Lives in Chile

Alejandro Cajas is Chilean public servant and non-profit manager. He holds a business and economics degree from Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, and a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University. Mr. Cajas is a strong advocate of democracy and civic values in Chile and the Americas. In 2013, he co-founded the Latin American Youth Network for Democracy. This network, dedicated to promoting democracy, human rights, and the rule of law in the Americas and the Caribbean, is currently present in 20 countries and gathers more than 100 youth-led organizations across the region. He’s the current chairman of the board of this organization.
In 2014, he co-founded Fundación Aula Cívica (FAC), a non-profit based in Chile that seeks to promote civic values and education in underserved high school communities in Chile. He continues to serve as a member of FAC’s board of directors. Lastly, he recently joined the Fundación Pacto Social advisory board, an organization devoted to maintaining the social fiber to fight polarization in the public discourse and anti-democratic rhetoric in Chile. Since 2015, he has been a promoter of Cuba Decide, a citizen initiative to bring about a change of system in Cuba towards democracy, and the rule of law. He currently serves as its Director of Operations.

Jorge Masetti

Cuba

Journalist and Writer

Exiled, Lives in France

Jorge Masetti was born in Argentina in 1955 and grew up in Cuba. His father Jorge Ricardo Masetti went to Cuba at the request of Ché Guevara to establish Prensa Latina, the official state news of Cuba. Masetti’s father died in Argentina in 1964 preparing Ché Guevara’s guerillas for combat. Masetti initiated his relationship with Departamento América in 1974. This was the Cuban exportation of leftist guerrilla movements to other nations, and Masetti became a militant of the Argentine revolutionary movements. He participated in various fronts of the guerrillas in Latin America, until 1989. At this time, his friend and father-in-law Antonio de la Guardia was killed as a result of purgings of high ranking revolutionaries initiated by Castro. These included General Arnaldo Ochoa and Colonel Antonio de la Guardia with their followers Amado Padron and Martínez Gil. They were accused of drug trafficking and treason. From this moment, Jorge Masetti broke with the Castro regime and left Cuba with his wife Ileana de la Guardia, daughter of the murdered Colonel Antonio de la Guardia. In 1991, he became a resident of France and will never return to Cuba, where the government continues to accuse him of treason.

Anna Chekhovich

Russia

Activist

Anna Chekhovich is an activist and the financial director of the Anti-Corruption foundation.

Sergei Davidis

Russia

Head of the “Political Prisoners Support Memorial” Project, Co-chair of the “Memorial” Human
Rights Defense Center

Not Exiled, Lives in Lithuania

Sergei Davidis is head of the “Political Prisoners Support. Memorial” Project and a Co-Chair of the “Memorial” Human Rights Defense Center. Both associations were created after the illegal liquidation of “Memorial” Human Rights Center, the oldest and largest Russian human rights organization, by a Russian court in April 2022. They continue the work that was carried out by the liquidated organization.For many years Sergei has been responsible for compiling the lists of Russian political prisoners published by Memorial Human Rights Center. He is an active participant and organizer of national and international advocacy for political prisoners. Mr. Davidis studied sociology at Moscow State University and law at the Moscow State Law Academy. In 2019, he was a Galina Starovoitova Fellow on Human Rights and Conflict Resolution at the Kennan Institute, Woodrow Wilson International Center for scholars. For many years, Davidis has been one of the organizers and active participants of the democratic opposition movement (in particular in the framework of the “Solidarity” Democratic Movement).

Alonso Moleiro

Venezuela

Journalist, Commentator, Writer

Lives in Venezuela

Alonso Moleiro is a Venezuelan journalist and commentator. He graduated from Universidad Central in Caracas. He was president of Colegio Nacional de Periodistas (CNP), a body which organizes journalists to advocate for the protection and fulfillment of freedom of the press in Venezuela. He worked for the newspapers El Globo and El Nacional and was director of the magazine Contrabando. For nine years he was also the director anchor of the radio show Circuito Unión Radio, which has been criticized by the regime despite attempting to be impartial. Moleiro currently appears as moderator and interviewer on an array of television programs, and publishes opinion columns in anti-government newspaper Tal Cual. As a journalist, Moleiro is concerned with the trajectory of democratic freedoms in his country, and believes that freedom of the press is essential in any free society and must be protected.

Enes Kanter Freedom

Turkey

Professional Basketball Player, Human Rights Activist

Lives in the US

Enes Kanter Freedom is an activist NBA player and Nobel Peace Prize nominee whose games were banned in China and Turkey after he spoke out against the country’s human rights abuses.
Raised in Turkey, Freedom has been targeted for daring to call out human rights violations by President Erdogan. Turkey has canceled his passport , put his name in Interpol list and imprisoned his father. On a 2017 visit to Indonesia, Freedom barely escaped police officers that the Turkish government sent after him.
Freedom, who changed his name in November 2021, has since become a voice for the oppressed in Turkey, China , Russia, Iran, Venezuela , Cuba and worldwide. In interviews and via his “Freedom Shoes”, designed by Chinese dissident artist Baduciao, he has spoken out for the rights of Uyghurs, Tibetans, Hongkongers and others.
In February 2022 he was traded from the Boston Celtics to the Houston Rockets, who promptly dropped him. Many suspect the NBA is punishing him for speaking out against China, and trying to silence him

Volha Kavalkova

Belarus

Politician, Lawyer, Activist, Dissident

Exiled, Lives in Poland

Volha Kavalkova is a Belarusian politician, pro-democracy activist, and political dissident.
She is a member of the presidium of the Coordination Council of Belarus that was formed in the aftermath of the disputed 2020 election to facilitate a democratic transfer of power. In 2019, Kavalkova announced her candidacy for the presidency, saying “The authorities should see that there are more people who want change than those who are on the other side of the system. The opposition should have a task to unite people in a united tangible front for the authorities to know that there are people who can dictate their conditions.” The Belarusian government initiated criminal proceedings against members of the Coordination Council, on the grounds that they were attempting to seize state power and were harming national security. Shortly afterwards, Kavalkova and other opposition members were arrested by state forces while supporting striking workers at the Minsk Tractor Works factory. After her release, she was threatened with further arrests if she did not leave the country, and was forced into exile in Poland, where she remains a vocal critic of Lukashenko’s regime.

Yunior García

Cuba

Playwright, Activist

Exiled, Lives in Spain

Yunior García is a playwright and activist for Human Rights and democracy in Cuba. he is the Founder of the Archipelago platform. He participated in the demonstration of artists in front of the Ministry of Culture, which gave rise to the 27N Movement. He was arrested and thrown into a rubble truck during the July 11 social outburst. He called the Civic March for Change, scheduled for November 15, 2021. The regime unleashed an unprecedented repression against the members of Archipelago. Yunior’s house was surrounded the day before the march by hundreds of policemen disguised as neighbors. He and his wife had to leave for Spain two days later. He currently lives in Madrid.

Rosalia Miller

Nicaragua

Human Rights Activist, President of Nicaragua Freedom Coalition

Lives in the US

Rosalia Miller is a Nicaraguan human rights and pro-democracy advocate. With former ambassador from Nicaragua to the United States, Salvador Stadthagen, and Manuel Orozco, PhD., Rosalia co-founded the Nicaragua Freedom Coalition (501 3c) based in Washington, DC and serves as its president. Her human rights advocacy, with a focus on the rights of children and youth extends far. More recently, her concentration has been in Nicaragua—her country of birth.
As president of the NFC, she dedicates her time to advocating with members of the U.S. Congress, the State Department, and the Organization of American States to help restore democracy in Nicaragua and to free all political prisoners.
Rosalia is a mosaic muralist and ceramist. She has done art interventions with children and youth who have experienced trauma in war-torn and conflict areas of the world, including Nicaragua, Sri Lanka, Colombia, and Indonesia. At Harvard, she was Culture Editor of The Citizen, the Kennedy School’s official newspaper, a Dean’s Ambassador, and founded the Harvard Kennedy School ArtPic (Public Interest Council) in 2012. Rosalia previously worked for 20 years at the International Monetary Fund (IMF)

David Lewis

Uganda

Attorney, Human Rights Activist, General Secretary of National Unity Platform (NUP)

Not Exiled, Lives in Uganda

David Lewis Rubongoya is a Harvard/ Oxford educated attorney, law lecturer and human rights activist from Uganda. He is a member of the Ugandan Law Society and the East African Law Society. He has been arrested and harassed for his work, but continues to be amongst the country’s leading voices for democratic reform. He has traveled and spoken at various international platforms about the gross violations of human rights in Uganda, and called for the world to respond to the ongoing crisis in the country. Principally, he is the Secretary General of Uganda’s main pro-democracy opposition movement, the National Unity Platform (NUP).

Masih Alinejad

Iran

Journalist and Human Rights Activist

Exiled

Masih Alinejad is an Iranian journalist and activist who advocates for personal choice in wearing the hijab. In 2014, she spearheaded a Facebook page called “My Stealthy Freedom” to protest Iran’s compulsory public hijab law for women and girls. For her commitment to human rights, she was awarded UN Watch’s International Women’s Rights Award, the AIB Media Excellence Award, and the Swiss Freethinker Association’s Freethinker Prize, among other honors. Her memoir, “The Wind in My Hair: My Fight for Freedom in Modern Iran,” was released in 2018. Alinejad currently lives in exile in New York City.

Ana Rosario Contreras

Venezuela

Nurse, Activist

Not Exiled, Lives in Venezuela

Ana Rosario Contreras is a Venezuelan human rights activist and nurse. She is the president of the Caracas Nurses Association. She has been on the front lines in the fight for the rights of healthcare professionals, patients, and labor unions. Contreras’ fierce activism has generated widespread support from the Venezuelan people and is at the center of the civil-political movement pushing for democratic change. In a climate where the government routinely jails, tortures, harasses, threatens, or restricts the movement of its opponents, Contreras defends citizens’ rights at great personal risk. She has advocated for labor rights and has worked tirelessly to ensure that healthcare workers could receive a subsidy through Interim President Juan Guido’s Health Heroes program. She was awarded the International Women of Courage Award in 2021.

Chiang Min-Yen

Taiwan

Journalist

Not Exiled, Lives in Taiwan

Chiang Min-Yen is a Taiwanese journalist and pro-democracy advocate. He is an Editorial Board Member of Flow HK and Chair of Hong Kong Outlanders. At the age of 18, he went to Hong Kong to study. His experiences there invigorated in him a passion for human rights activism. The 2014 Umbrella Protests in Hong Kong particularly impacted him, and as a Taiwanese in Hong Kong, he discovered that the plight of Hong Kongers and Taiwanese were linked. He has conducted research on Chinese impacts in Taiwan and worked for a local CSO, Economic Democracy Union. Upon his return to Taiwan from Hong Kong, he founded the Taiwan Citizen’s Front, whose goal is to “communicate with the public, facilitate the adoption of public views by political parties, and promote social cohesion and a sense of community among Taiwanese.” Currently, he is engaging in international activism for Hong Kong. He has a Master of Arts in Sociology & Contemporary China Studies, NTHU, Taiwan.

Jhanisse Vaca-Daza

Bolivia

Activism Outreach Specialist in HRF as well as Manager of the Freedom Fellowship Program

Lives in Bolivia

Jhanisse Vaca Daza is co-founder of Ríos de Pie, a non-violent citizen movement focused on human and environmental rights in Bolivia. She is also Network Manager for the Oslo Freedom Forum at the Human Rights Foundation, and has been named Peace Ambassador by One Young World and the European Commission. She began teaching nonviolence in Bolivia at the age of 23, which later led to the creation of Ríos de Pie (Standing Rivers in English).
Standing Rivers played a key role driving humanitarian efforts during the Amazon fires crisis from 2019 to date, and continues working with firefighter groups, indigenous leaders and park rangers in Bolivia to protect forests affected by these fires. More importantly, members of Standing Rivers continue to educate thousands of Bolivians in nonviolence resistance which has been deployed to protest the Bolivian government at the state and local level. Jhanisse obtained her honors bachelor’s degree at Kent State University, where she studied International Relations thanks to scholarships. She subsequently completed the Nonviolent Movement Leadership for Social Progress and Leadership in Crisis executive programs at Harvard Kennedy School. Her previous work experience includes work in program AVISA which protects children victims of sexual abuse in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.

Carbone Beni

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Pro-Democracy Activist, Human Rights Defender

Not Exiled, Lives in DRC

Carbone Beni is a pro-democracy activist and human rights defender in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He is co-founder of the citizens’ movement Filimbi, a civil society initiative which advocates against poor governance and human rights abuses, and demands the government respect the Congolese constitution. Specifically focusing on youth, Filimbi works for freedom of expression, thought, association, and assembly. They organize peaceful protests, demonstrations, debates, and press conferences. Beni participated in demonstrations against President Joseph Kabila, and was brutally arrested and detained as a result. He was detained for nine months before being charged with “undermining the internal security of the state” and “offending the head of state” as well as “publishing and distributing of subversive writings.” He and his colleagues were sentenced to twelve months in prison.

Omar Alshogre

Syria

Refugee activist

Exiled, lives in Sweden/USA

Omar Alshogre fled Syria at the age of 20 after being arrested and imprisoned for participating in rallies and demonstrations against the Syrian regime. With the help of his mother, Omar was finally smuggled from prison at the age of 20. From his new home, Omar currently engages in raising awareness of the situation in Syria. Omar leads the Syrian Emergency Task Force’s efforts to advocate for the liberation of detainees as the Director of Detainees Affairs.
Among other places, Omar spoke at the UN Security Council, US Congress, and Harvard University.

Iliana Hernandez Cardoza

Cuba

Somos+ Movement Founder

Not exiled, Lives in Cuba

Iliana Hernandez Cardoza works as both a reporter and an activist in Cuba. She faced heavy persecution and threats from the regime. She lived in Spain for a time, where she worked as a voice actress in films. Upon returning to Cuba, Hernandez founded the Somos+ Movement and sought to captivate the reality of life in Cuba. She was arrested during a pro-LGBTQ march and the government raided her house. During this raid much of her property was confiscated. In 2020, the government accused her of theft to discredit her work.

Osama Issa

Jordan

Journalist, Activist, founder and CEO of Shexomedia for Human Rights

Not Exiled, Lives in Jordan

Osama Issa is a Jordanian journalist and activist specializing in Women Rights, Freedom, and Achieving Democracy fields. In 2017, he started his journey in free and independent media through “Shezomedia” program which deals with societal contradictions in the concepts of rights, democracy and liberalism. The program dealt with the taboos of politics, religion and gender. He lives in Jordan, and has received multiple death threats and incitement from Islamic extremists. He fled to the Netherlands for a year, and returned when the situation was contained to open his platform and his company concerned with human rights and liberal content.
Today, his platform is followed by hundreds of thousands of people and has gathered millions of views. He says that people are more open and understanding to what he suggest despite the governmental obstacles and the incitement of some religious parties.

Abdalaziz Alhamza

Syria

Journalist, Human Rights Activist

Exiled, Lives in Germany

Abdalaziz Alhamza is an award winning Syrian human rights activist and journalist. He is an international security fellow at the New America think tank, as well as a fellow at the McCain institute. He is perhaps best known as being the founder of Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBBS), a non-partisan, independent organization which documents and exposes atrocities committed by ISIS, the Syrian government, and other groups in Raqqa. Mr. Alhamza was an organizer of peaceful protests against the Assad regime in 2011, and was arrested by the government three times in 2012. After the emergence of ISIS in 2014, Alhamza was interrogated several times by ISIS members as a result of his activism. This caused him to flee to Turkey, where he began RBBS with his friends. Through photographs and videos, RBBS activists risked their lives to publish accurate information on daily life under ISIS. “All of us,” he said, “are accepting that any one of us will be killed at any time or anywhere.” Indeed, ISIS has killed four RBBS members. Due to threats by both the Assad regime and ISIS while living in Turkey, Mr. Alhamza fled to Germany, where he now lives.

Ammar Abdulhamid

Syria

Author, Human Rights Activist

Exiled, Lives in the US

Ammar Abdulhamid is a Syrian author, human rights activist, and political dissident. He is the president and cofounder of the Tharwa foundation, a nonprofit which promotes diversity, development, and democracy in Syria and the broader Middle East and North Africa. After calling for the overthrow of the Assad regime in 2005, Mr. Abdulhamid and his family were forced to leave Syria. They currently live in the United States. Over the years, Ammar served as a fellow at Brookings Institution and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, briefed officials in the U.S. and Europe on the human rights situation in Syria, and provided Congressional testimonies. Between 2018 and 2022, he co-hosted an Arabic TV program on Alhurra Channel dedicated to analyzing current developments from a classical liberal perspective.

Roya Mahboob

Afghanistan

Businesswoman, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist

Exiled, Lives in the US

Roya Mahboob is an Afghan businesswoman, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. She is the founder and CEO of the Afghan Civil Software Company, a software development company in Afghanistan. She is among the first female IT CEOs in the country. Her company was founded with the goal of creating jobs for recent University graduates, with a special focus for women.
ACSC is a groundbreaking enterprise in Afghanistan, which has pioneered the tech industry in the country, including one project which helped hospitals shift from paper to digital records.
Mahboob was named to TIME magazine’s top 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2013 for her work in bringing the internet to highschool classrooms. She also founded Women’s annex, a blog used as a platform for women and girls in Afghanistan and Central Asia to tell their stories to the world. She met with Secretary of State John Kerry at the American University of Afghanistan to discuss the role of women entrepreneurs in Afghanistan. She also created nine IT centers for girls in highschools across Afghanistan.

Carolina Ribera Áñez

Bolivia

Dentist, Lawyer, Human Rights Defender, Democracy Activist

Not Exiled, Lives in Bolivia

Carolina Ribera Áñez is a Bolivian dentist, lawyer, human rights defender, and pro-democracy advocate. From 2019-2020, she served as the presidential representative in the Social Support and Management Unit. She is the eldest daughter of former Bolivian president Jeanine Áñez. Ribera was a leader in her party’s youth wing, and campaigned successfully to reject the government’s referendum to suspend presidential term limits in 2016. She also worked with her mother in various social campaigns aimed at improving oral hygiene and improving the condition of Bolivian women’s rights, access to healthcare and job opportunities. Ribera became nationally known when her mother was arrested on charges of participating in a coup to oust President Evo Morales in 2019. She became a powerful voice in denouncing her mother’s persecution and illuminating the erosion of jurisprudence and political rights in her country.

Leyla Hussein

Somalia

Psychotherapist, and Social Activist

Not Exiled, Lives in the UK

Leyla Hussein is a British-Somali psychotherapist and social activist. She is the founder of Dahlia Project, a health and wellbeing charity based in North London which focuses on the health and wellbeing of women who have undergone genital mutilation. She is also one of the co-founders of the Daughters of Eve, a non-profit organization also aimed to protect these women. Over the years, Hussein has dedicated herself to providing education and raising awareness on FGM (Female Genital Mutilation). She is the Chief Executive of Hawa’s Haven, a coalition of Somali women activists aiming to raise awareness on gender-based violence in Somalia. She is also the global ambassador for the Girl Generation, a program aiming to end FGM in one generation, operating in 10 African countries. Hussein was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her work in confronting gender inequality and FGM.

Wai Hnin Pwint Thon

Burma

Human Rights Activist

Exiled, Lives in the UK

Wai Hnin Pwint Thon is a Burmese human rights activist based in Geneva. She is the daughter of Mya Aye, one of the leaders of 88 Generation Students Group in Burma, and one of the country’s most well-known Muslim human rights activists. Wai Hnin’s father was arrested and imprisoned throughout her life, and she first met him behind bars. She left for London in 2006, near the time her father was again arrested and imprisoned for leading the Saffron Revolution, a mass demonstration against the military dictatorship. She has dedicated her life to raising awareness of thousands of political prisoners held in Burma, including her own father.
She works with human rights activists and organizations inside Burma to coordinate advocacy and international campaigns actions, and works extensively to mobilize international action against the Burmese military. She has worked for Burma Campaign UK and Amnesty International, cultivating a presence in British TV and media to spread awareness and rally support for the human rights situation in her country.

Chemi Lhamo

Tibet

Activist, Community Organizer

Exiled, Lives in Canada

Chemi Lhamo is a Canadian-Tibetan human rights activist and community activist. She is politically active in Toronto, where she is running for the Toronto City Council. She is a persistent advocate for Tibetans in her community, and is the Canadian representative for the International Tibet Network Steering Committee and the Community Health Lead at Parkdale People’s Economy. She has also served on the board of the Canadian Tibetan Association of Ontario and Students for a Free Tibet Canada. Because of her activism for freedom in Tibet, she has faced harassment and death threats from pro-Chinese students, and possibly has been targeted by Chinese state intelligence in smear campaigns. Doubtless, she remains a fighter for social justice and democracy both in her local community in Canada and in her estranged homeland Tibet.

Maximilienne Ngo Mbe

Cameroon

Human Rights Campaigner

Not Exiled, Lives in Cameroon

Maximilienne Ngo Mbe is a Cameroonian Human Rights Campaigner and activist. She leads the Réseau des Défenseurs des Droits Humains en Afrique Centrale, an NGO focused on protecting the rights of human rights defenders in Central Africa. REDHAC covers eight countries in the region: Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Chad, Gabon, Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, and São Tomé and Principe. Ngo Mbe has also worked as an election observer and consultant for the African Union. Due to her activism, she has faced constant harassment and threats to her safety. REDHAC offices have repeatedly been attacked and broken into. She moved her children to France in 2013 to protect them, but remained in Cameroon to continue the fight. She has been vocal in her criticism of government abuses, including the Ngarbuh massacre in 2020, where 22 civilians were massacred by government troops. In 2021, she was one of fourteen women to win the International Women of Courage Award.

Fred Bauma

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Pro-Democracy Activist

Not Exiled, Lives in DRC

Fred Bauma is a pro-democracy activist and leader of La Lutte Pour Le Changement (LUCHA), a nonviolent civil society movement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
LUCHA advocates for human rights and democracy in that country. Mr. Bauma has encouraged young people to mobilize and be a force for positive change through political participation and social entrepreneurship. He was arrested and imprisoned because of his participation in a peaceful demonstration against the regime in 2015. He spent 18 months in prison, where he faced the death penalty. Due to international pressure, he was released in 2016. However, he remains in his country and is still an active member of LUCHA and continues to fight for democracy, the rule of law, and human rights in his country.

Me Me Khant

Burma

Human Rights and Pro-Democracy Activist

Exiled, Lives in the US

Me Me Khant is a Burmese pro-democracy and human rights activist. She is a poet and is active within the Burmese diaspora. She has organized and mobilized thousands of Burmese in rallies and protests around the world, and denounced the gross human rights violations and atrocities committed by the military junta in her country. For her humanitarian work, she was awarded the Nayef Samhat Prize from Center which recognizes “graduating seniors majoring in international studies judged by the program faculty to have shown the greatest promise to advance peace and justice in international affairs.”

Zineb El Rhazoui

Morocco

Journalist

Exiled, Lives in France

Zineb El Rhazoui is a French-Moroccan journalist. She is an outspoken critic of the Moroccan government, and of Islam. She is the founder of the pro-democracy, pro-secularism movement MALI, and has been arrested by the Moroccan government three times for her activism. She was eventually forced into exile, settling in France. There, she became a spokeswoman for the feminist organization Ni Putes Ni Soumises, where she worked to help Muslim women in abusive family relationships. During the Arab Spring in 2011, she began to contribute to Charlie Hebdo, speaking of the struggle for democracy and human rights in Morocco. She was not in France during the 2015 shooting of Charlie Hebdo’s offices in Paris, but was deeply affected. The event emboldened her to enhance her work to combat religious extremism and advance the cause of secularism and human rights in the Muslim world. For her writings, she has faced consistent threats on her life from ISIS.

Gladys Hlatywayo

Zimbabwe

Secretary for International Relations for Citizens’ Coalition for Change

Not Exiled, Lives in Zimbabwe

Gladys Kudzaishe Hlatywayo is the current Secretary for International Relations for Citizens’ Coalition for Change in Zimbabwe (formerly Movement for Democratic Change Alliance) led by Advocate Nelson Chamisa. She is a 2016/17 Chevening Scholar at London School of Economics for Political Science and a 2014/15 Hubert Humphrey Fellow at the University of Minnesota in the United States. She has more than 15 years of experience in democracy and governance work and has held various positions in the party including being a National Executive Committee member, Secretary for International Relations for the Youth Assembly and an Information Committee member. Gladys has also worked in various civil society groups including Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition and Zimbabwe Civic Education Trust, (USAID/OTI) where she mainly focused on advocacy, research, program development, peace-building and civic education. She holds a BA from the University of Zimbabwe, MSc in Development Studies from the National University of Science and Technology , and an MSc in Public Management and Governance from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Rafael Marques de Morais

Angola

Journalist, Anti-Corruption Activist

Not Exiled, Lives in Angola

Rafael Marques de Morais is an Angolan journalist, anti-corruption activist, and human rights defender in Angola. He has received several international awards for his reporting on conflict diamonds and corruption in his country. In 1999, Mr. De Morais gained international attention when he was arrested after publishing an article called “The Lipstick of Dictatorship” in which he criticized President José Edoardo dos Santos, calling him a dictator who destroyed Angola by promoting “incompetence, embezzlement, and corruption as political and social values.” He was held without being charged and without access to legal counsel. Guards would break into his cell at night and try to force him to sign blank documents which would be used against him. He refused, and publicly went on a hunger strike. During his trial, he was sentenced to six months in prison and found guilty of the charge of “Abuse of the Press” resulting in “injury” to the president. He has continued to fight for freedom and democracy in Angola following his release.

Zitto Kabwe

Tanzania

Politician, Opposition Leader

Not Exiled, Lives in Tanzania

Zitto Kabwe is a Tanzanian politician. He served as a two-term member of parliament and belonged to the opposition party, Chadema. He then joined the Alliance for Change and Transparency party, and currently serves as its leader. During his time as an MP, Kabwe campaigned for a strong conflict of interest code as a measure to fight corruption by public officeholders. Kadwe is also associated with the Mining Act of 2010, where he participated in cross-party negotiations and civil society to pass the bill, which was designed to combat corruption in the mining sector. Kabwe was nearly forced into exile in 2020 and was perceived to be under threat following the national elections and the political uncertainty that arose. Indeed, other party members were subjected to assassination attempts and supporters were shot and killed.
He remains in Angola fighting to guarantee political rights and multiparty democracy in his country.

Carlos Vecchio

Venezuela

Ambassador of Venezuela to the United States for the Interim Government of Juan Guaidó

Exiled, Lives in the US

Carlos Vecchio is a Venezuelan lawyer, politician and social activist, designated as Ambassador to the United States by Juan Guaidó in January 2019. Prior to his postgraduate studies in law at Georgetown University and public administration at Harvard University, he served as a legal consultant for Venezuela’s state-run oil company, PdVSA. In the early 2000’s, Vecchio grew opposed to the economic policy of the Hugo Chávez administration, which led him to co-found the political party Voluntad Popular political party alongside Leopoldo López and Juan Guaidó. Due to his criticism of the Maduro regime, Vecchio would eventually be forced into exile, where he now serves as the Venezuelan Ambassador to the United States. In that capacity, he has been a main voice against the criminal regime in Venezuela.

Pierre Claver Mbonimpa

Burundi

Human Rights Activist

Exiled, Lives in Belgium

Pierre Claver Mbonimpa has shown tireless dedication to the human rights cause as one of Burundi’s most prominent human rights activists and founder of the Association for the Protection of Human Rights and Detained Persons (APRODH). A former police officer, Mbonimpa founded APRODH in 2001, after spending two years in prison in the mid-1990s on trumped-up charges of possessing an illegal weapon. He has made countless appeals and personal interventions on behalf of people who have been wrongly imprisoned, and was himself imprisoned again in 2014, after speaking out against various abuses. Mbonimpa leads APRODH’s documentation and advocacy on a wide range of abuses, including: attacks on human rights defenders, opposition party members, and journalists, as well as political killings, forced disappearances, unlawful detention, and torture.

Shahrzad Changalvaee

Iran

Artist

Not Exiled, Lives in the US

Shahrzad Changalvaee is an Iranian artist. She was born in 1983 in Tehran. The bloody Iran-Iraq war marked her childhood. She and her husband had been outspoken advocates of the reformist candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi in the run-up to the 2009 presidential elections.
Following his defeat, massive street protests erupted. Following the violent and ruthless crackdown by government forces on the opposition, Changalvaee and her husband left Iran for the United States. In her work, Changalvaee focuses on constructing narratives of fragmentation and questions global political phenomena, with particular emphasis on the plight of Iranians who are subjugated by the theocratic regime.

Tendai Biti

Zimbabwe

Former Minister of Finance of Zimbabwe

Not Exiled, Lives in Zimbabwe

Tendai Biti is a Zimbabwean politician who served as Finance Minister of Zimbabwe from 2009 to 2013. He is the current Member of Parliament for Harare East Constituency and the second Vice President of Citizens Coalition for Change. He was the Secretary-General of the Movement for Democratic Change and the subsequent Movement for Democratic Change – Tsvangirai (MDC-T) political parties and a Member of Parliament for Harare East until he was expelled from the party and recalled from parliament in mid-2014, before winning the seat again in 2018.

Bob Rugurika

Burundi

Investigative Journalist and Human Rights Defender

Exiled

Bob Rugurika has been a Burundian Investigative journalist and human rights defender since 2004. He moved to RPA’s investigative unit in 2007, became chief editor three years later and was in 2014 promoted to his current post, as director. RPA is one of Burundi’s few remaining independent voices in the media.
Having become a journalist just before President Pierre Nkurunziza’s 15 year-rule (that ended in 2020), Rugurika has endured media repression throughout his career. Nkurunziza’s unconstitutional bid to run for a third term shook Burundi’s fragile peace, sparked widespread protests and forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homeland.
Over the years, Rugurika, who also works closely with human rights defenders, has covered a range of topics including political killings, extra-judicial killings, assassinations, a massacre of 40 civilians, illegal weapon trade, economic embezzlement, and major corruption cases involving government officials. His work set him on a collision course with the authorities. In 2011 alone, he was summoned 11 times by the Prosecutor for his journalism. Imprisonment and death threats followed. In January 2015, Rugurika was held in prison after he interviewed a former government soldier who was in hiding. He was released in February 2015. On 29 March (2015) three armed men were sent to kill him at home. Fortunately, they went to look for him in a neighbor’s home.
In 2016, Rugurika scooped the prestigious CNN Multichoice Press Freedom Award for his Press Freedom struggle. Now in exile, Rugurika continues his journalism with RPA. The station, whose listenership includes Burundians inside the country and hundreds of thousands in exile, broadcasts in Kirundi and French via social media, shortwave, and other technological platforms.
Through these means, RPA, staffed by exiled journalists, continues to inform Burundians and the world about the developments in Burundi.

Omer Kanat

Uyghur

Executive Director of Uyghur Human Rights Project

Exiled, Lives in the US

Omer Kanat is a Uyghur human rights advocate, Executive Director of the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP), and Executive Committee Chairman of the World Uyghur Congress (WUC). He co-founded UHRP in 2003 and the World Uyghur Congress in 2004. He has served as Vice President of the World Uyghur Congress since 2006 and Chairman of the WUC Executive Committee since 2017. Mr. Kanat regularly meets with members of US Congress to brief them on Uyghur human rights and policy responses, and has testified before the Senate Human Rights Caucus and the U.S. Atrocity Early Warning Task Force.

Nury Turkel

Uyghur

Chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom

Exiled, Lives in the US

Nury Turkel is the first U.S.-educated Uyghur-American lawyer, foreign policy expert, and human rights advocate. He was born in a re-education camp at the height of China’s tumultuous Cultural Revolution and spent the first several months of his life in detention with his mother. He came to the United States in 1995 as a student and was later granted asylum by the U.S. government. Since June 2022, Turkel has served as the Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, having been reappointed by Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in May of 2022 for a two-year term. In September 2020, Turkel was named one of the TIME 100 Most Influential People in the World; and in May 2021, he was named on Fortune’s List of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders.

Scovia Arinaitwe

Uganda

HRD & Rapid Response Coordinator

Not Exiled, Lives in Uganda

Scovia Arinaitwe is founder and Team Leader Rhizing Women Uganda; a women’s organization building grassroots women movements. She is a member of the Revolutionary council of the African Coaching Network, which is building and connecting movements across the African Continent. Scovia is an activist with over eleven years of experience in movement-building, organizing, human rights and advocacy. Her passion for human rights movements started as a student activist at University as early as 2008. She then started working in local communities, encouraging different people to become champions of leadership while working at Forum for Democratic change. She later worked at Solidarity Uganda, a movement building organization where she served in different capacities; as director, rapid response coordinator, and as a trainer, she has mobilized communities to hold their leaders accountable.
During this period, she worked with various movements and was trained as a coach, joining the Rhize team of coaches. Her work at Rhize and Solidarity Uganda has inspired her to focus on movement building specifically for women. Rhizing Women therefore comes in to inspire, incubate and strengthen the Women’s movement.

Iverson Ng

Hong Kong

Columnist at Estonian Newspaper Postimees

Not Exiled, Lives in Hong Kong

Iverson Ng is an Estonia-based Hong Kong policy advocate and columnist. In 2020, he successfully lobbied for an informal Hong Kong Support Group in Estonia’s parliament in October. In 2021, backed by almost 70 Estonian intellectuals and politicians, he initiated a public appeal on Chinese influence in Estonia responded by Prime Minister Kaja Kallas; he also advocated for a Hong Kong resolution adopted by the Lithuanian parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee in December. In early July, he convened the first-ever Hongkongers in Europe Summit in Prague where Hongkongers from 10 European countries gathered to discuss the future of the Hong Kong community in Europe. Recently, he testified at the Czech Chamber of Deputies on the Czech-Hong Kong extradition treaty and at the European Parliament on the two-year implementation of the Hong Kong National Security Law.

Mario Félix Lleonart

Cuba

Priest, Pro-Democracy Activist

Exiled, Lives in the US

Pastor Mario Felix Lleonart Barroso was born on June 17, 1975, in a Christian Protestant family. As a child, he went to the church where he received an education that later helped him a lot in order to understand how totalitarian the Cuban regime was. He became a priest, founded the website cubanoconfesante.com, and began to report the crimes of the Cuban regime on his Twitter account. He was one of the founders in 2013 of the Patmos Institute, which promotes religious freedoms, human rights and non-violence to transform realities. He published the complaint of the dissident Juan Alfredo Soto who died after being beaten. He suffered persecution from the state police and was arrested several times, among others during Barack Obama’s visit to Cuba in 2016. He currently resides in the United States but maintains contact with the Cuban dissidents on the island.

Yoaxis Marcheco

Cuba

Human Rights Activis

Exiled, Lives in USA

Yoaxis Marcheco (August 14th 1973), is a Cuban Human Rights activist. Since 2013, she has dedicated an important part of her work to traveling, representing Cuban Civil Society, and exercising citizen diplomacy. She is a member of the Patmos Institute that monitors violations of religious freedom within Cuba and is a promoter of the citizen platform Cuba Decide. Because of her political activism on the island and her work educating people in her community on Human Rights, the Cuban dictatorship strengthened the repression and harassment against her, her husband, (also an activist), and her family. For this reason, in August 2016, she had to travel with her family to the United States permanently under the status of a political refugee. Her political activism against the Castro dictatorship continued on social media. She has published articles in independent Cuban publications such as “Convivencia,” “Nota del Cielo” and “Cubanet.” In 2019, her second book “Armado: hasta en el nombre y el apellido” was published, which is an interview with the Cuban writer exiled in the United States, Armando de Armas.
Marcheco Graduated with a degree in Information Sciences from the University of Havana and a has a Master’s degree in Theological Studies from the Latin American Faculty of Theological Studies (FLET) in Florida, USA. She is currently a Doctor of Ministry Candidate at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, located in Kansas.

Aliaksandr Azarau

Belarus

Exiled, Lives in Poland

Aliaksandr Azarau is a former lieutenant colonel in the Belarussian police that defected from Belarus and is now a leader of BYPOL. During popular protests in Belarus in 2020, Azarau protected activists from violence and sought to ensure tactics from security services minimized the use of violence. He then defected from Belarus and supported peaceful pro-democracy movements.

Leopoldo López

Venezuela

Founder, Voluntad Popular

Exiled, Lives in Spain

Leopoldo Lopez was born in Caracas, Venezuela in 1971 and studied at Kenyon College for his bachelor’s and Harvard University for his master’s. In 2000, he was elected mayor of Chacao. Upon noticing the increasing repression from the Chavez regime and eroding of democratic institutions, Lopez led peaceful street protests against the regime. He formed the opposition party Voluntad Popular in 2009 and continued to advocate for “all rights for all people.” In 2013, the dictator Nicolas Maduro ordered Lopez’s arrest. At a peaceful demonstration, Leopoldo turned himself in while giving a speech urging for the people to continue their peaceful protests and make their voices heard. He was subjected to inhuman treatments at Ramo Verde prison. Eventually the regime assigned him to house arrest, but Leopoldo refused to be silenced. He was freed in 2019 during an uprising against Maduro’s regime. Leopoldo is currently living in exile and fighting for a free Venezuela.