The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) has made the difficult decision to postpone the May 25-27 Oslo Freedom Forum in Norway due to the public health emergency posed by COVID-19, the “Wuhan Coronavirus.”
Given the possibility of a global pandemic, we have concluded that it would not be prudent to proceed with the planning of a large-scale gathering at this time.
This decision was not made lightly, but for the safety and well-being of the members of our community.
The rapidly-evolving situation regarding this highly infectious virus, and the lack of transparency exhibited by the Chinese regime, is leading governments in democratic countries to take aggressive containment measures to prevent more introductions of this virus.
We expect travel restrictions to be implemented by numerous governments of countries from where delegates, dissidents, journalists, and valued members of our community will originate their travel. This will make the visa and entry process into Norway (and possibly into layover countries) challenging because many of our speakers and participants are arriving from countries and regions already affected by the virus, such as Italy, Iran, Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China.
The events in Iran and China surrounding the spread of the Wuhan Coronavirus, and the government’s response to it, are a testament to why the Oslo Freedom Forum, a global conference devoted to exposing dictatorial regimes and promoting democracy, exists.
Dictatorial regimes limit freedom of expression, promote blind obedience to the government, and discourage transparency and accountability. Regimes falsify and even fabricate health statistics, in their constant efforts to paint false realities and hide difficult societal truths.
HRF believes that the current global health emergency is a powerful reminder of how authoritarian regimes, which rule almost half of the world’s countries, pose a serious threat to global peace and prosperity.
Our team is currently working to explore suitable alternatives, and we hope to have an alternate date announced in the coming weeks.
For inquiries, please contact HRF’s director of communications Natalia Ciolko at [email protected].