CFF at Yale University featured four inspiring talks by human rights
defenders from around the globe, followed by an interactive Q&A with the

Marina Nemat

Iranian former political prisoner Marina Nemat shared her
moving personal story about her journey to freedom. After being sent to jail at 16 for
criticizing the brutal regime of Ayatollah Khomeini, she spent two years in the
notorious Evin Prison where she was interrogated, tortured, threatened with
execution, raped, and ultimately forced to marry her captor. Nemat is the author of the best selling
Prisoner of Tehran: One Woman’s
Story of Survival Inside an Iranian Prison
and After Tehran: A Life Reclaimed.

Yeonmi Park

North Korean defector Yeonmi Park shared her story of living
in one of the world’s most repressive regimes and how outside media and
information is transforming life in the “Hermit Kingdom.” As a child, she lived as part of North Korea’s elite until
the regime punished her father for selling items to China. Park and her family
escaped North Korea in 2007.

Srdja Popovic

Serbian nonviolence expert and political activist Srdja Popovic discussed the pivotal role he played in Otpor! as they peacefully
toppled the dictatorship of Slobodan Milosevic. He shared stories from his
years of experience working with democratic movements around the world as the
founder of CANVAS and discuss his recent book
Blueprint for Revolution and nonviolent strategies for driving

William Dobson

Slate politics and foreign affairs editor William Dobson analyzed the battle between modern-day authoritarian leaders and their citizen
opponents. As Dobson describes in his book
Dictator’s Learning Curve
, dictatorships are constantly evolving, but civil
society has the ability to learn and adapt faster than its oppressors.

The event is a joint initiative in partnership with
Yale ThiNK (There is Hope in North Korea).