The 2019 Oslo Freedom Forum will take place from May 27-29, 2019 in Norway’s capital city. Garry Kasparov, Chairman of the Human Rights Foundation in an invitation letter extended to Agbor Balla said they believe that Agbor Balla’s dedication to pro-democracy efforts in Cameroon and in Africa as a whole, and his work with the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa, will inspire participants involved in the ongoing struggle to advance human rights and fundamental freedoms around the world.
“There is no other gathering in the world like the Oslo Freedom Forum’s unique mix of dissidents, philanthropists, journalists, artists, entrepreneurs, defectors, musicians, and world leaders, all of whom come to Norway each year for an immersive, collaborative experience focused on making the world more peaceful, prosperous, and free. We would be honoured to include you in this inspiring community,” Kasparov says.
Over the last decade, the Oslo Freedom Forum has brought together individuals like Czech writer and dissident Václav Havel, Liberian Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Leymah Gbowee, Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel, Iranian human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi, North Korean defector Yeonmi Park, Nigerian Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, Cuban dissident and journalist Yoani Sánchez, Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef, Pakistani filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, Russian punk band Pussy Riot, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, Turkish author Elif Shafak, and many others.
At the Oslo Freedom Forum, the foundation for a better and freer world is laid. “Our eleventh annual event will gather our community for three days of powerful talks, workshops, roundtable discussions, interactive art exhibits, comedy, music, and, most importantly, shared conversations and stories that inspire action,” organisers say.
The Economist calls the Oslo Freedom Forum the “Davos for human rights,” and The New York Times says it’s the place where “the world’s dissidents have their say.” The Oslo Freedom Forum, however, is more than a platform for inspiring talks – what makes the event truly exceptional are the partnerships and collaborations created each year. Each speaker and participant brings valuable insight and experience, and the ideas generated during the Oslo Freedom Forum truly have the power to change the world.
Human Rights Foundation Chairman Garry Kasparov shares an example of the impact the forum generates each year. “In 2017, Venezuelan democracy activist Antonietta Ledezma spoke at the forum to raise awareness about the imprisonment of her father, opposition leader and former Caracas mayor Antonio Ledezma. This fearless daughter shared stories of the impact of her father’s arbitrary arrest and kidnapping, not only on her family but also the broader movement for freedom in Venezuela. Her family was only one of millions affected by the Venezuelan regime’s silencing of opposition. Months after Antonietta joined us in Oslo, Antonio escaped house arrest and safely made his way to Spain, where he now lives in political exile after spending more than 1,000 days as a prisoner of conscience. At the forum’s tenth anniversary, Antonio walked onto the Oslo Freedom Forum stage as a freed man, letting the world know that he would not be silenced and promising that he would remain steadfast in his commitment to democracy. This is just one example of many that illustrates the power of our community in Oslo, and beyond.”
Agbor Balla is expected to share his “remarkable experiences” at the Oslo Freedom Forum when he mounts the rostrum as speaker.
Upon his arrival at Oslo Thursday, May 23, 2019 ahead of this year’s Oslo Freedom Forum that begins on Monday, Agbor Balla told Cameroon-info.net that he is humbled by the rare opportunity.
“I am short of words. From serving time in jail to addressing the Oslo Freedom Forum is just mind blowing. I am truly honoured,” Agbor Balla said.
The President of the outlawed Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium (CACSC) and former President of the Fako Lawyers Association (FAKLA) was among those who held talks with government in 2016 and January 2017 to rescue Common Law practice in a constitutionally bilingual, bi-cultural and bi-jural Cameroon.
He would later be arrested on January 17, 2017 moments after the Consortium he led was banned. He spent about eight months at the Principal Prison in Yaoundé during which time he was charged before a military tribunal and faced the maximum sentence. He was freed on September 1, 2017 but has kept alive his fight to protect and further human rights.
Agbor Balla is the Founder/President of the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa, CHRDA.