As we reflect on 2022, it’s evident how this year was a critical moment for human rights and democracy in Asia and globally.
One month ago, the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) returned to Taipei to host the third Oslo Freedom Forum in Taiwan — making Taiwan the most frequent host country for our Forum outside the United States and Norway.
The 2022 #OFFinTaiwan was our long-awaited return after two years of pandemic-related postponements, during which Taiwan made international headlines as a model for its pandemic response and its ongoing resilience in the face of rising global authoritarianism.
We were humbled to receive a gracious welcome from the OFF community in Taiwan upon our return. Excited attendees, including many student delegations, local civil society organizations, activists, journalists, and government officials, filled the theater.
We heard first-hand stories from renowned global activists standing up to tyranny in Burma, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Ukraine, the Gambia, Saudi Arabia, and Taiwan.
Political figures and government officials from the country, including Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu and Taiwanese Congressman Freddy Tshiong-Tso Lim, joined activists on stage to call for a united struggle against authoritarianism. We were also honored to be joined by Taiwan-based Australian singer Kimberley Chen, who performed at the event.
The #OFFinTaiwan expo space featured many HRF programs, including Flash Drives for Freedom, the Ukraine Solidarity Fund’s Voices from Inside, Impact Litigation, Art in Protest, Responsible Finance’s Defund Dictators, and Wear Your Values’ Uncomfortable Truth. Visitors engaged with the interactive displays, wrote postcards to political prisoners, and viewed artworks by exiled Chinese Australian dissident artist Badiucao.
The space also featured interactive booths by HRF partner organizations: the Citizen Lab, Cofacts, Garden of Hope Foundation, Ghost Island Media, Hong Kong Outlanders, the Human Rights Network for Tibet and Taiwan, Open Culture Foundation, Snowball Community, Students for a Free Tibet – Taiwan, SyndAvant, Taiwan Association for Human Rights, the Taiwan Equality Campaign, Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, and the Taiwan NextGen Foundation. Representatives from these organizations were on-site to engage with visitors about their work.
More than 100 journalists, photographers, and videographers attended the 2022 #OFFinTaiwan press conference and theater program. The Forum and our speakers have since received remarkable coverage in international and Taiwan-based outlets, including The Taipei Times, Focus Taiwan, Taiwan News, The Guardian, Taiwan Plus, and The Liberty Times, among others.
For the first time in #OFFinTaiwan history, HRF coordinated closely with Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) to spearhead a delegation of HRF staff members and international OFF speakers. The delegation schedule was action-packed, including:
– A meeting with the president of Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan, You Si-kun, attended by legislators across all political parties.
– A dinner banquet graciously hosted by MOFA’s Secretary General Lily Hsu, along with distinguished guests: commissioner from the National Human Rights Commission, Chi Hui-Jung, director general of MOFA’s Department of NGO International Affairs, Constance Wang, and representatives of international NGOs in Taiwan.
– A meeting with the inaugural chairperson of Taiwan’s National Human Rights Commission, Chen Chu, joined by six commissioners involved in Taiwan’s democratization process and human rights development.
Despite the global backsliding of democracy, Taiwan continues to stand tall and strong — serving as an inspiration for the region and the world. As the first and currently only Oslo Freedom Forum in the Asia region, it’s incredibly valuable to continue bringing global activists to Taiwan to share strategies, exchange ideas, and strengthen the global movement for freedom. Now, more than ever, it’s important for us all to stand together.
HRF firmly believes Taiwan can become a capital for human rights. We hope to bring our Oslo Freedom Forum community back to Taipei for years to come and shine a spotlight on Taiwan as a global beacon for democracy. If you would like to support future Oslo Freedom Forums in Taiwan, please donate to our OFF in Taiwan fundraiser.