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Vote to Bring HRF’s Sessions to SXSW 2024!

Each year, the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) brings democracy and human rights to the forefront of discussions at South by Southwest (SXSW), the world’s largest creative conference in Austin, Texas. HRF remains committed to promoting freedom, reaching new audiences, and bringing people together to join our common cause: defeating tyranny.

With your votes, HRF will again bring human rights to the world’s attention. This year, HRF has eight sessions up for consideration, featuring prominent activists and experts in various fields. Read about HRF’s sessions below and create a Panel Picker account to vote for them today!

Community voting is open from Tuesday, Aug. 8, to Sunday, Aug. 20.

Documenting conflict zones is not a new phenomenon, but the ethics of this are increasingly coming into focus. Photojournalists are on the frontlines documenting atrocities to inform the world of a dictator’s abuses, while dictators welcome influencers to paint a false picture of the country’s state. How can we ensure that the general public can decipher between the reality of conflict zones and human rights violations versus influencers’ white-washed portrayal of the situation?

This panel will feature award-winning author and journalist Anjan Sundaram, the White Helmets’ Abdulrahman Almawwas, Australian Strategic Policy Institute analyst Daria Impiombato, and eyeWitness legal advisor Julianne Romy.

From Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 World Cup to Saudi Arabia’s hostile takeover of golf, sports now serve as powerful tools, transcending their role as a means to launder dictators’ reputations. Authoritarian regimes strategically exploit the global appeal of sports to shape narratives, project influence, and divert attention from internal issues, revealing the complex and far-reaching implications of this phenomenon: “sportswashing.”

This panel will feature investigative journalist Karim Zidan, producer and writer of “FIFA Uncovered” Miles Coleman, New York Times journalist Tariq Panja, and ALQST’s head of Monitoring & Advocacy, Lina Al-Hathloul.

Ongoing debates around the merits and flaws of ESG investments primarily concern environmental issues — leaving concerns of human rights and democracy as an afterthought. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, however, has sparked discussions about foreign investments in authoritarian regimes. How should businesses, individuals, and democratic governments invest in emerging markets with many autocratic regimes? How can we ensure compliance with human rights in business operations at home and abroad?

This discussion will feature economist and author Marcos Buscaglia, founder of Life+Liberty Indexes Perth Tolle, and HRF senior policy officer Alvaro Piaggio.

The globalization of Uyghur advocacy has brought much-needed attention and awareness to the Uyghur community. Consequently, Uyghurs are known by the world through the actions of oppressors, overshadowing their rich history, art, and culture.

This immersive performance will feature dancing by Mukaddas Mijit, an independent artist and filmmaker, honoring the imprisoned Uyghur poet Perhat Tursun, while showcasing the beauty of Uyghur advocacy.

Human rights defenders often see their bank accounts frozen and their access to financial services severed by authoritarian regimes looking to neutralize opposition. For many, Bitcoin has become a technology of escape and liberation.

This panel will feature Anti-Corruption Foundation financial director Anna Chekhovich, Togolese writer and blogger Farida Nabourema, Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López, and Afghan entrepreneur Roya Mahboob.

The digital space has been crucial for spreading information and initiating contentious discussions in the Middle East. In recent years, however, emerging technology — like Pegasus spyware — has weaponized the crackdown on activists and journalists throughout the region. To what extent can developing technology hinder activism in the region? How has technology already been weaponized? And what can we do to circumvent the threats it poses?

The panel will feature Citizen Lab senior researcher Bill Marczak, founder of Granitt Runa Sandvik, Moroccan journalist Ahmed Benchemsi, and SMEX executive director Mohamad Najem.

From the Arab Spring to the 2019 Hong Kong protests, to Nigeria’s 2020 #EndSARS protests and the Iranian revolution unfolding today, social media has been an essential tool for activists to expose human rights violations, disseminate information, and grow their movement. With its ever-growing importance, social media companies must do their part to ensure their platform is a trusted and safe forum for activists.

This panel will feature Hong Kong activist Anna Kwok, Nigerian musician DJ Switch, Iranian women’s rights activist Masih Alinejad, and Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin.

Poetry has been a powerful tool for the Uyghur community, showcasing its struggles and resilience. Since 2016, nearly all intellectuals and their works vanished as China began it’s genocide against the Uyghurs. But poetry remains a form of resilience, both in the homeland and in exile, preserving the cultural value that the Chinese Communist Party wants to tarnish so vehemently.

This panel will feature Uyghur advocate Jewher Ilham, co-founder of the Tarim Network Munawwar Abdulla, Uyghur poet Ehmetjan Osman, and Freedom House program officer Elise Anderson.

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With your support, HRF will continue to bring people together to discover and learn more about the struggle for freedom.