The fight for freedom is not the sole prerogative of the political arena. In countless countries around the world freedom is being oppressed and it is up to civil society and committed individuals to make the change. These catalysts were honoured at this year´s Oslo Freedom Forum and we want to bring you three innovative examples of how activists are promoting freedom in three widely different countries.
Movies for Pakistan
Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy realised that as a female, Pakistani movie-maker she could make a difference to the situation of women in her country. She sought out difficult topics, such as violence against women, travelled into the field and spoke with people on both sides of the story, exposing the illogical nature of misogyny. On tape, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy confronts a man known for beating his employees, and he defends himself by saying that since he gives them a paycheck he reserves the right to do with them as he wishes; the fallacy of his argument is laid bare as Obaid-Chinoy ´s movie turns silent. She has spoken to women whose face has been tarred by acid attacks, but who still exhibit a remarkable degree of stoicism in dealing with their adversity. Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy ´s powerful movie caught the attention of Pakistan´s Prime Minister and following a screening at the Prime Minister´s Office, the Pakistani government took measures to stop honor violence of this kind.
Grafitti on Cuba
The Grafitti artist El Sexto grew up in a one-party communist dictatorship. He was force-fed stories of revolutionary greatness, his idol was made to be Che Guevara. As a teenager, El Sexto rebelled against a government which he saw trying to mould the entire Cuban people in the mould of the Castro Regime, any individuality was suppressed. El Sexto started by grafitting his name on the walls of public buildings, showing his discontent. He used graffiti art to ridicule the rigidity and paranoia of the regime, and the pinnacle came when he spray-painted two pigs with the names Fidel and Raoul, the names of Cuba´s ruling fraternal twosome. He knew it would cause him trouble, that it would mean he would have to leave Cuba, but he did it to show the people of Cuba that the human spirit cannot be towed by the will of any party or state. Now living in exile, El Sexto continues to use graffiti art to keep focus on human rights abuses on Cuba, in spite of the recent thawing in relations between Washington and Havana.
Flashdrives for Freedom
Having escaped North Korea after months of imprisonment, torture and starvation, Jung Gwang-il decided it was his duty to do something, anything, for those who remained in North Korea´s gulag prison camp system. Jung Gwang-il came up with the idea of Flashdrives for Freedom, which seeks to collect Flash drives and memory cards which can be used by North Koreans eager to get an outside perspective on their country. The campaign collects flashdrives from all over the world, at Oslo Freedom Forum participants were able to donate their flashdrives on a USB wall decorated with the face of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un. By donating a flash drive you were able to make your own small, yet meaningful contribution to shutting up the North Korean dicator, as the photo neatly illustrates. Jung Gwang-il ´s project brings people together from across the world to fight oppression in North Korea.