Experiences from the 2022 Oslo Freedom Forum, by Ashley Jones (A24)

by MH
Jul 28

This May, I attended the Oslo Freedom Forum, a human rights conference hosted by the Human Rights Foundation in Oslo, Norway. The conference amplified the voices of a range of speakers specializing in topics such as financial freedom and human trafficking. It was amazing hearing every single speaker's perspective and learning about distinct human rights violations. This conference has reinvigorated my motivation not only in the work that I will be doing as an Oslo Scholar with the Albert Einstein Institution but my long-term goal to dedicate myself to the betterment of women’s rights throughout the world.  


A particular speaker that struck me was Omar Alshogre, a Syrian human rights advocate and Director of Detainee Affairs at Syrian Emergency. He spoke about his time being detained in a Syrian prison with his cousin, Bashir. Omar talked about how Bashir’s persistent smile and the repeated phrase “Mit Warde” or “100 Flowers” inspired hope within him and the other prisoners. Even after the death of Bashir, his memory drove Omar to not abandon hope in prison and eventually become the champion of change he is today. Omar’s speech demonstrated that even during perilous times, you can still help those around you by doing the things you love as Bashir did.  


Throughout the conference, the underlying theme of resilience prevailed. Many of the speakers have and are facing dangerous situations such as exile, torture, and more. However, all of them have not lost their determination, they still continue to advocate for human rights and fight against their oppressors knowing that this could put them at further risk. Their commitment and sacrifice are inspiring. I hope that in the future, I am able to help make change like they have today.  


Thank you to the Institute for Global Leadership and the Human Rights Foundation for giving Oslo Scholars this opportunity to hear from these courageous individuals and learn about different worldwide human rights issues.