2019

Dec
The Global Magnitsky Coalition receives a positive decision on the form of funding
The Global Magnitsky Coalition — of which HRF is a member — saw wins in the form of funding increases for Global Magnitsky enforcement in all relevant appropriations bills in the FY20 minibuses, one of which states that “not less than $3,000,000 shall be available for addressing human rights violations and corruption.”
Dec
HRF launches global fundraiser for Hong Kong Desk
Launched the global fundraiser for HRF’s 2020 Hong Kong Desk
Nov
HRF presents at the SingularityU Nordic in Sweden
Future of Governance conference presented in conjunction with SingularityU Nordic @ Internetdagarna Stockholm, Sweden
Nov
HRF focuses the OFF on the Arab World
HRF held the first Oslo Freedom Forum Working Retreat focused exclusively on the Arab World.
Oct
The U.S. State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report cites the HRF
The U.S. State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report cited an HRF policy memo on human trafficking and authoritarianism
Oct
HRF features activists at the Human Rights Forum
HRF featured six activists and experts at Augsburg University's Human Rights Forum in Minneapolis.
Oct
HRF presents OFF in New York
HRF presented the Oslo Freedom Forum in New York at the historic Town Hall Theater
Oct
HRF submits petition to the UNWGAD on behalf of Maskud Ibragimov
HRF submitted a petition to the UNWGAD on behalf of Tajik political opposition activist Maksud Ibragimov, who was abducted in Russia and forcibly returned to Tajikistan, where he was sentenced to 17 years in prison.
Oct
HRF publishes an op-ed in The Washington Post
HRF’s Legal and Policy team members, Michelle Gulino and Malaak Jamal, published an op-ed in The Washington Post (“Ethiopia’s leader won the Nobel Prize. But he’s got a long way to go for peace.”).
Oct
HRF files urgent appeal on behalf of Masih Alinejad
HRF filed an urgent appeal on behalf of Iranian activist Masih Alinejad's brother, Alireza, who was forcibly taken from his home and is being held in Iran's notorious Evin Prison.
Sep
HRF attends the SingularityU Nordic at Oslo Innovation Week
Future of Governance conference presented in conjunction with SingularityU Nordic @ Oslo Innovation Week Oslo, Norway.
Sep
HRF publishes in Eazel Magazine for Fashion Week
HRF staff, Céline Assaf Boustani and Michelle Gulino, published in Eazel Magazine for Fashion Week: "Wear Your Values: Fashion's Role in the Fight for Freedom."
Sep
HRF submits urgent appeal regarding police violence in Hong Kong
Submitted Urgent Appeal to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Peaceful Assembly regarding police violence in the Hong Kong anti-extradition law protests.
Sep
HRF presentes OFF in Taiwan
HRF presented the Oslo Freedom Forum in Taiwan.
Aug
HRF receives a positive decision in the Malekpour matter
HRF received a positive decision from the UNWGAD in the Malekpour matter, noting that his detention had been arbitrary under each category for which we set forth an argument. HRF's partners at the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Justice noted that this is an exceptional decision, particularly in both depth and tone, and perhaps the most strongly-worded opinion they've seen from the UNWGAD.
Aug
Saeed Malekpour escapes Iran's prison
During a brief furlough granted due to international pressure, Saeed Malekpour escaped Iran's Evin Prison to attain his freedom in Canada. HRF had previously submitted a petition on his behalf to the UNWGAD.
Jul
HRF publishes an op-ed in TIME
HRF’s Policy and Research team members, Malaak Jamal and Prachi Vidwans, published an op-ed in TIME (“Human Trafficking Has a Hidden Cause — and It's on the Rise Worldwide”).
Jul
HRF presents case file under the Global Magnitsky Act
HRF staff member, Roberto González, represented HRF in Washington, D.C. to present HRF's case file submission under the Global Magnitsky Act to representatives from the State and Treasury Departments, along with the Canadian and U.K. governments.
Jul
HRF submits a complaint to the UNWGAD
HRF and the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights submitted an individual complaint to the UNWGAD requesting that it initiate a formal investigation into the arrest of Russian activist Anastasia Shevchenko.
Jun
HRF brings North Korean defectors to The Hague
HRF presented a panel featuring North Korean defectors at the 2019 Border Sessions conference.
Jun
HRF attends "Deep Dive" panel to discuss the Sudan uprising
HRF staff member, Michelle Gulino, appeared as a panelist on “Deep Dive” with Wall Street Journal editor Mary O’Grady, to discuss the Sudan uprising.
Jun
HRF attends RightCon in Tunis, Tunisia
HRF's Legal and Policy team attended RightsCon in Tunis, Tunisia. HRF staff spoke on a panel to discuss the threat of Chinese surveillance technology in relation to the Uyghur crisis, and led an interactive workshop called “Bridge the Gap: Bringing Your Case to the U.N.," which guided activists on how to use the complaint procedures at the U.N. Human Rights Council as an advocacy tool.
Jun
UNWGAD accepts the arbitrary detention on Mombo Kinga
HRF received a favorable decision from the UNWGAD against the dictatorship of Gabon, noting that Hervé Mombo Kinga’s detention and deprivation of liberty were, in fact, arbitrary under numerous categories, and that he was entitled to compensation.
May
HRF submits its first case file under the Global Magnitsky Act
HRF submitted its first case file under the Global Magnitsky Act to the U.S. State and Treasury Departments.
May
OFF in Norway
The Oslo Freedom Forum gathers activists in Norway, united against tyranny around the world.
May
HRF introduces new branding
HRF launched an entirely new brand that combines all of its work into one cohesive design built around our core personality—bold, sharp, and human.
May
HRF briefed civil society on the Kremlin political prisoners
HRF staff member, Michelle Gulino, briefed civil society groups and Congressional staff on Capitol Hill on the Kremlin political prisoners report and its value as a tool to assist in the imposition of sanctions on culpable perpetrators within Russia.
May
HRF urgent appeal to the United Nations
HRF submitted an urgent appeal to the U.N. Special Procedures on behalf of Saudi activist Raif Badawi in advance of Ramadan- an occasion for Royal Pardons in the Kingdom.
Apr
HRF's op-ed on the economics of Tyranny in Venezuela
HRF’s Legal and Policy team member, Roberto González, co-authored an op-ed in the National Review (“The Economics of Tyranny in Venezuela.”).
Apr
HRF first comprehensive report on the Kremlin's Political Prisoners
As a founding member of the Coalition to Free the Kremlin’s Political Prisoners, HRF co-launched the first comprehensive report on political prisoners, "The Kremlin’s Political Prisoners: Advancing a Political Agenda by Crushing Dissent."
Apr
HRF panel discussion at Columbia University
HRF hosted a panel discussion at Columbia University, entitled “Turkey: The Collapse of the Rule of Law.”
Apr
HRF reporting the Collapse of the Rule of Law and Human Rights in Turkey
HRF released a report, “The Collapse of the Rule of Law and Human Rights in Turkey: The Ineffectiveness of Domestic Remedies and the Failure of the ECtHR’s Response,” in conjunction with a Turkish Legal Expert.
Apr
Freedom Drive
Freedom Drive with Manal al-Sharif from San Francisco to Washington, D.C.
Mar
HRF and the Global Magnitsky Act
HRF signed on to support a series of letters formally requesting $1 million each in appropriations for the Departments of Treasury, State, and Justice, to be used for the implementation of targeted sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act.
Mar
HRF's submission for United Nations
HRF’s Legal team prepared a submission for the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review of The Gambia.
Mar
HRF at Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy
HRF staff member, Céline Assaf Boustani, represented HRF at the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy.
Mar
College Freedom Forum at Universidad Francisco Marroquín
HRF hosted the College Freedom Forum at Universidad Francisco Marroquín in Guatemala.
Mar
HRF at South by Southwest
HRF staff presented an official SXSW interactive panel on the Uyghur crisis and Chinese human rights issues.
Mar
Shawkan released
Egyptian photojournalist Shawkan released after 5 years in arbitrary detention as a result of HRF's advocacy.
Mar
Mexico City art exhibit
HRF presented a photography exhibit featuring photos from "Geografia del Dolor," a project by Mexican photographer Mónica González depicting the families left behind by disappeared people in Mexico's drug war.
Mar
Oslo Freedom Forum in Mexico
As part of its regional event series, HRF presented the first Oslo Freedom Forum in Mexico City at the Museo Nacional de Antropología.
Mar
U.N. special rapporteur appeal
HRF sent an open letter to the U.N. special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK about the censorship of defectors living in South Korea. The letter was co-signed by HRNK and the North Korea Freedom Coalition.
Mar
Rómulo Betancourt Prize for Democratic Diplomacy
Prizes are awarded to Diego Arria, Wuilly Cochez, and Luis Almagro
Mar
College Freedom Forum at Harvard University
HRF hosted the College Freedom Forum in Boston for the students at Harvard University. Speakers included tk tk tk
Mar
U.N. special rapporteur appeal
HRF filed submissions on behalf of Saudi human rights activist Omar Abdulaziz Alzahrani, to the Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy and the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, after Alzahrani was subjected to a cyber attack ordered by the Saudi government.
Mar
Hervé Mombo Kinga released
Gabonese activist Hervé Mombo Kinga was released from prison after nearly 18 months in detention as a result of HRF's advocacy.
Mar
U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention appeal
HRF submitted an individual complaint to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD), requesting that it initiate a formal investigation into the wrongful arrest, unwarranted charges, and pre-trial detention of Gabonese activist, Hervé Mombo Kinga.

2018

Aug
Flash Drives for Freedom reaches 600 million impressions
More than two years into the campaign, Flash Drives For Freedom continues to receive high profile coverage including the front page of Reddit and almost every major news outlet, with a $0 media budget.
May
2018 Havel prize awarded
Winners of the 2018 prize include Emmanuel Jal, the Belarus Free Theatre, and Mai Khôi.
May
Flash Drives for Freedom named top 15 PR campaigns in the world
Flash Drives for Freedom was honored at the 2018 One Show with a Silver in the Public Relations category.
May
Oslo Freedom Forum 10 year anniversary
HRF celebrated its 10th Anniversary of the Oslo Freedom Forum in May.

2017

Nov
Nicolas Cage exposé
HRF urged actor Nicolas Cage to rescind his support for Kazakhstan’s authoritarian government, resulting in widespread press coverage of the regime’s human rights abuses.
Nov
Thae Yong-ho speaks at off
North Korean defector Thae Yong-Ho, the highest-ranking official to ever escape North Korea, sent an exclusive video message to the 2017 Oslo Freedom Forum arguing that outside information is the best way to challenge the Kim regime.
Oct
HRF testifies before the US Senate
In July, HRF testified before the U.S. Senate on the activities of Fusion GPS, a DC-based strategy company that coordinated smear campaigns against investigative journalists and whistleblowers on behalf of Venezuelan- controlled Derwick Associates.
Oct
Successful petition to the OAS
In March, HRF called on the OAS to activate the “democracy clause” in Venezuela. Two months later, OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro denounced the crimes of the regime in his talk at the 2017 Oslo Freedom Forum.
Sep
Flash Drives for Freedom wins the prestigious D&AD Impact Award
Flash Drives for Freedom was honored at the 2018 D&AD Impact Awards.
Aug
Launched Art in Protest
Launched new project, Art In Protest, in April with an exhibition in San Francisco featuring work by Cuban dissident graffiti artist El Sexto.
Aug
Launched Free Speech Unlimited
Officially launched Free Speech Unlimited project in March with a panel discussion at RightsCon Brussels.
Jul
Evan Mawarire campaign
Zimbabwean activist Evan Mawarire Released from prison in February after an international campaign and HRF’s request to the UNWGAD to investigate his arbitrary detention by the Mugabe regime.
Jun
El Sexto released
Cuban graffiti artist El Sexto released from prison in January after HRF submitted a complaint to the Un Working Group On Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD).

2016

Nov
Launched Sages Group
HRF partnered with the Yonsei Center for Human Liberty to launch the Sages Group On North Korean Human Rights In The U.S.
Oct
Atlantic Council Exposé
Published article in Foreign Policy exposing the Atlantic Council’s whitewashing of Gabonese president Ali Bongo Ondimba after the prominent think tank honored him with an award in September.
Sep
Second San Francisco Forum
HRF celebrated its 10th Anniversary in September during the second San Francisco Freedom Forum.
Aug
Waleed Abulkhair campaign
Published legal report in July and an op-ed in The Washington Post on prisoner of conscience Waleed Abulkhair, who was jailed for “inciting public opinion” through online posts challenging Saudi Arabia’s dictatorship.
Jul
Global Coalition for North Korean Human Rights Act
Months after launching the Global Coalition For The North Korean Human Rights Act (NKHRA), which establishes support for civic groups working on North Korean human rights issues and the creation of an institution to document the crimes of the regime, the NKHRA was approved by South Korea’s parliament.
Mar
USA Today names HRF a highlight of SXSW
Hosted panel at South by Southwest (SXSW) on “How To Free North Korea With Technology” that was later praised by USA today as “one of the highlights of SXSW.”
Mar
College Freedom Forum in Guatemala
Held first international College Freedom Forum at Universidad Francisco Marroquín in Guatemala in March.
Mar
Launched Flash Drives for Freedom
Launched Flash Drives For Freedom, a campaign that has collected more than 125,000 flash drives to be loaded with outside information and sent into North Korea.

2015

Dec
Thulani Maseko campaign
Successfully campaigned for the release of Oslo Freedom Forum speaker and human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko in June, who was jailed for writing an op-ed criticizing Swaziland’s corrupt judicial system.
Nov
Nicki Minaj exposé
Brought human rights abuses of the Angolan dictatorship into the international spotlight with widespread coverage of a Nicki Minaj concert there in December, including a feature on the cover of the New York Post.
Oct
College Freedom Forums
Held College Freedom Forums at Stanford and Yale Universities.
Oct
Launched Russian Download
Launched The Russia Download, a weekly email digest aimed at informing policymakers and media about the human rights situation in Russia.
Sep
HRF receives Magnitsky Award
Received Sergei Magnitsky Award for “Outstanding Human Rights Activism” in November.
Aug
Lionel Messi Exposé
Drew global attention to human rights violations and corruption in the Central African country of Gabon by challenging a PR trip by Argentine football star Lionel Messi in July.
Jul
El Sexto Campaign
Successfully campaigned for the release of Cuban graffiti artist and prisoner of conscience Danilo Maldonado Machado, also known as El Sexto, in October.
Jun
Launched "Your Human Rights"
Launched global guides on “Your Human Rights,” a series of blueprints for freedom to be shared among dissidents in closed societies.

2014

Dec
Second College Freedom Forums
Held College Freedom Forum at the University Of Colorado Boulder.
Sep
Hack Them Back Campaign
Launched Hack Them Back, an online crowdfunding campaign responding to the pro-North Korean cyberattack on Sony Pictures, which raised more than $50,000 to flood North Korea with outside information.
Aug
Erykah Badu exposé
Launched campaign denouncing Erykah Badu’s performance at the birthday celebration of Swaziland’s King Mswati III in April that broke through to popular culture with Bet, E!, Billboard, and The Hollywood Reporter. This led to her cancelling her performance in the dictatorship of The Gambia.
Aug
Hack North Korea
Hosted Hack North Korea, a two-day gathering of more than 100 technologists, engineers, venture capitalists, designers, coders, and North Korean defectors for the world’s first North Korea-focused hackathon in August.
Jul
Launched Free Speech Unlimited
Launched Free Speech Unlimited, a comparative legal research project to persuade decision-makers and the public to embrace the highest possible legal standard for the protection of free speech.

2013

Dec
HRF's North Korea work begins
Visited South Korea in June and began supporting North Korean defector groups sending information into North Korea.
Nov
2013 Havel Prize
Awarded Havel Prize to Syrian political cartoonist Ali Ferzat, North Korean defector and democracy activist Park Sang Hak, and Cuban civil society group the Ladies In White.
Sep
Kazakhastan United Nations petition
Published legal report in July on crackdown on independent media in Kazakhstan and submitted legal petition to the United Nations on the matter.
Aug
First College Freedom Forum
Launched College Freedom Forum at Tufts University in November, bringing the experience of the Oslo Freedom Forum to college campuses.
Jul
Kanye West exposé
HRF makes international headlines by condemning celebrities including Jennifer Lopez and Kanye West for performing for dictators, bringing attention to human rights violations in Angola, Turkmenistan, China, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Belarus, and Kazakhstan.
Jun
Maria Lourdes Afiuni campaign
Released legal report in January on Venezuelan judge and prisoner of conscience María Lourdes Afiuni, who was arrested for asserting her independence as a judge, aiding in a campaign that resulted in her release in June.

2012

Nov
San Francisco Freedom Forum
Held first San Francisco Freedom Forum in September, bringing together Burmese Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi with Bay Area thinkers and doers.
Oct
Mariah Carey exposé
Exposed abuses of Angola’s dictatorship through a media campaign in December to challenge Mariah Carey’s performance in the country.
Sep
Urban Outfitters campaign
Leveraged media in September to pressure clothing store Urban Outfitters to pull from its shelves a shirt featuring Che Guevara, one of the architects of Cuba’s totalitarian regime.
Aug
The First Havel Prize
Awarded first Václav Havel International Prize For Creative Dissent to Burmese opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, and Saudi women’s rights advocate Manal Al-Sharif in May.
Jul
United Nations on Venezuela
Published legal report in September on Venezuela’s lack of judicial independence and submitted it to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges.
Jun
Sullivan exposé
Launched successful campaign in August to expose the Leon H. Sullivan Foundation for its PR work to promote the Obiang dictatorship in Equatorial Guinea.
May
The Kasparov Era Begins
Garry Kasparov, a world renowned chess player and Russian human rights activist, became HRF chairman in May.

2011

Dec
Leopoldo Lopez campaign
Filed influential amicus curiae brief in March with the Inter-American Court Of Human Rights in the case of Leopoldo López v. Venezuela.
Nov
Emilio Palacio campaign
Published legal report in October and appealed to Ecuador’s supreme court in defense of press freedom for publisher Emilio Palacio, who was fined $40 million after publishing an op-ed calling President Correa a “dictator.”
Oct
Congressional Human Rights Academy
Hosted Congressional Human Rights Academy in Washington, D.C., in March to connect legislators and their advisors with political prisoners and human rights advocates.
Sep
Shakira exposé
Successfully lobbied Shakira in September to not attend Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov’s birthday, and criticized Hilary Swank And Jean-Claude Van Damme for attending the celebration, drawing international attention to the Chechen dictatorship’s human rights abuses.
Aug
Ruben Gonzalez campaign
Successfully campaigned for the release of prisoner of conscience and Venezuelan union leader Ruben González in March after a joint advocacy venture with the AFL-CIO.

2010

Aug
Invited to attend the Nobel Awards
Attended Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony in December as a guest of Chinese laureate and prisoner of conscience Liu Xiaobo, who was jailed for his pro-democracy writings.
Jul
Oslo Scholars launches
Launched Oslo Scholars program in May, giving university students the opportunity to work with Oslo Freedom Forum speakers and attend the forum.
Jun
Quang Do interview
Visited Vietnam in March to interview imprisoned religious leader Thich Quang Do, who was put under house arrest for his peaceful protests against the regime.
May
Center for Law & Democracy opens its doors
Created Center For Law And Democracy program in March and published a 300-page legal report on the Honduran democracy crisis.
Apr
Fighting General Insulza
Called for the resignation of OAS Secretary General Insulza for aiding the authoritarian president of Honduras and escalating the crisis weeks prior to the coup. Launched Insulza.com in March to prevent his reelection as secretary general.

2009

Oct
The Havel Era begins
Founding HRF international council member and Czech dissident Václav Havel became chairman in August.
Sep
Honduran coup d’etat
HRF was the first international organization to call on the OAS to suspend the Honduran government after the June Coup D’etat.
Aug
The inception of the Oslo Freedom Forum
Held inaugural Oslo Freedom Forum in May, with keynotes by Elie Wiesel and Václav Havel.

2008

Dec
First Global Guide
Published major report on political violence in Bolivia in October.
Oct
Guadalupe Llori campaign
Successfully campaigned for the release of prisoner of conscience Guadalupe Llori, an Ecuadorean indigenous leader jailed for criticizing President Rafael Correa.
Sep
OAS campaign
Began campaign in August to hold Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General José Miguel Insulza accountable for failing to sanction Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua for eroding democratic institutions and violating the Inter-American Democratic Charter.
Aug
Tell Chavez campaign
Launched Tell Chávez campaign in July with an online petition requesting the release of political prisoners in Venezuela.
Nov
The Sugar Babies documentary
Produced “THE SUGAR BABIES,” a documentary that premiered in June and exposed the human trafficking of Haitian families into the Dominican Republic’s sugar fields.

2007

Dec
Free RCTV campaign
Established Free RCTV campaign in May to expose censorship of independent media in Venezuela.
Nov
Humanos Rights
Began production and distribution of “Tus Derechos Humanos,” an educational human rights guide for Cubans.

2006

Sep
The Defense Begins
Took on first political prisoner case in December, defending Francisco Usón, a Venezuelan citizen persecuted for criticizing the government on television, in December.
Aug
A board is born
Board created from authors and former political prisoners, including Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel and Tibetan dissident Palden Gyatso.
Jul
Our First Chairman
Former Cuban prisoner of conscience and diplomat Armando Valladares became HRF’s first chairman in March.

2005

Apr
Out of hardship grows a new foundation
Halvorssen’s only recourse was to create an entity that could fight for the rights others were unable to protect. HRF incorporated on April 12, 2005, in Washington, D.C., with the pro bono assistance of Ron Jacobs, Venable LLP.
Mar
The shot heard nowhere
On February 1, 2005, our founder’s mother was shot by the Venezuelan government while she was protesting their corruption in the streets. But no matter what Thor Halvorssen did, no one would take action to hold the Venezuelan government accountable.