Dear all, Oslo Freedom Forum 2016 kicked off on 23 May. The program is extensive, with speakers with many exciting backgrounds, from many different countries and from different layers of the society.
We “know” the Oslo Freedom Forum, hereby called OFF, as a political right-project. There are number of stories about the founder, Thor Halvorsen, and his activities in Venezuela. But what is true and not true about Thor Halvorsen, as a person is actually not so interesting when it comes to this conference and its contents.
We’ve both got some comments and questions today, “why the hell do you participate in a right-wing conference and support a right-wing movement?” Under normal circumstances such a question would make us think. Not because we define ourselves as right or left, but to consider whether the allegations measure up, something we eventually plan on doing at some point.
We postponed to think about this until the end of the first day. We are writing this post while sitting in the lobby of the hotel and talking about and thinking through what we have experienced today and whom we met. Today, among many, we met some young activists from Syria who had taken the perilous road to attend this conference. So did some remarkable people from Afghanistan or other countries where people live under dictatorships. These countries are brutal dictatorships and must be acknowledged as that regardless of whether you belong to the right or left side of the political spectrum. They have a goal to be at this conference to tell their experiences and bring other people’s experiences back with them as an inspiration. They will also get professional input, including supports from companies which help them with the technological tools that they need.
The conference gives them motivation and mental support to continue their struggle for freedom, democracy and human rights. These are freedom fighters.
Then we have some people sitting safely behind their PCs indulged in their security and freedom and writing opinions about who is doing what and and who and what is worth supporting. What gives you the right to judge the whole conference and put a label on it? What you do is actually attacking all these freedom fighters who actually gamble their lives to come here and continue to work on their projects. These people deserve that we actually listen to what they say, and support them in their struggle for freedom, democracy and human rights.
Dear friends. The world should not always be based on right and left, and everything can not be seen as blue and red. This is a thinking that is better to be left in the Cold War days. We humans have ears, and they are for listening, not for decoration. As long as we do not listen to others, we do not understand their point of views and therefore can not argue against them, if we wish to do so. As for our plan, we will look at the conference with a critical eye, later on, but only after listening to the speakers. Let us support freedom, human rights and democracy, and all those who fight for it, instead of sacrificing them in a “political game” when they are not sitting in security and freedom behind a computer screen and actually are risking their lives. Let us show respect and recognize all the venues that make their work easier rather than demonizing them.