November 16, 2015
CFF at Stanford University featured five inspiring talks by human rights defenders around the globe, followed by an interactive Q&A with the audience.
Iranian former prisoner of conscience Marina Nemat shared her moving personal story about her journey to freedom. After being jailed at age 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. After being released from prison, Nemat moved to Canada where she wrote her best-selling books, “Prisoner of Tehran” and “After Tehran.”
Ugandan LGBT rights activist Kasha Jacqueline discussed the state-sponsored homophobia resulting from her government’s anti-homosexuality laws. Jacqueline is the founder and director of Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG), one of the only lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersexual organizations in a country where homosexuality is criminalized by a long-ruling regime. In retaliation for her brave advocacy, she has been harassed, attacked, and threatened with arrest and death.
Encryption expert and DEFCON organizer Nico Sell talked about her work championing private communications and free expression as the CEO of the Wickr Foundation. Sell is also the CEO and co-founder of r00tz Asylum, a nonprofit dedicated to teaching children about the values of white-hat hacking, and the founder of Wickr, a free messaging app enabling anyone to send self-destructing messages that are anonymous, private, and secure.
Egyptian activist, computer engineer and entrepreneur Wael Ghonim discussed new opportunities in digital activism. He is a co-founder of Parlio, and previously was an Entrepreneur in Residence at Google Ventures. Ghonim spent six years at Google, during which he headed up Marketing and Product in the MENA region and was responsible for driving the growth of Google's products across the region, evangelizing the use of the internet, and growing its Arabic content. During the 2011 Egyptian revolution, he created the Facebook page “We are all Khaled Saeed” after the death of an activist at the hands of state security forces, which became an open forum for posting information about Egyptian police brutality.
Chinese human rights advocate Ti-Anna Wang talked about her mission to free her father, leading democracy activist Wang Bingzhang, who is a political prisoner of the Chinese regime. In 2002, he was abducted in Vietnam by Chinese government agents, convicted on charges of espionage, and sentenced to life in prison – even though no evidence was presented against him. Since her father’s arrest, Wang has launched an international campaign for his release and partnered with daughters of other imprisoned activists to advocate for democratic change in China.
The event was a joint initiative in partnership with Stanford STAND, CS + Social Good, and the Stanford Korean Students Association.