TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- The New York-based Human Rights Foundation (HRF) has selected Taiwan to host the Oslo Freedom Forum (OFF) in Taipei on Nov. 10, reports the New York Times.
The 10th annual Oslo Freedom Forum, a global human rights conference, will be held this year in Taipei, marking the first time the event has been hosted in an Asian country. According to the OFF website, speakers at this year's conference are to include Cambodian exiled opposition politician Mu Sochua, North Korean defector Yeonmi Park, Egyptian actor Omar Sharif Jr., L.G.B.T. rights activist Megha Rajagopalan, China bureau chief and Asia correspondent for BuzzFeed News Megha Rajagopalan and Russian democracy activist Vladimir Kara-Murza.
The conference gathers together rights campaigners, dissidents, philanthropists, tech entrepreneurs, academics, policy experts, media representatives, artists and others to "share their stories and brainstorm ways to expand freedom and unleash human potential across the globe."
Alex Gladstein, chief strategy officer for HRF, told the NYT that Taiwan was selected for its role as a regional leader in democracy and human rights and that "There aren't that many fully fledged, multiparty democratic countries in East Asia.”
In response to the announcement, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday posted the following statement on Twitter:
#Taiwan is hosting its 1st Oslo Freedom Forum later in the year. We thank @OsloFF for this vote of confidence in our democracy & respect for human rights & rule of law. Together, like-minded countries can make a more peaceful, prosperous & free world: https://t.co/oUWNEcxCOT. pic.twitter.com/5E7w8XJTVy— 外交部 Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ROC (Taiwan)
When selecting a country in Asia, Gladstein said that HRF narrowed it down to Taiwan and South Korea, but in the end selected Taiwan because, "Right now the political situation for human rights activists in Taiwan is much friendlier than in Korea at the moment.”He indicated that South Korea's fixation on cozying up with North Korea has had the effect of "forcing human rights to take a back seat to politics and diplomacy."
The news of the event being hosted in Taiwan was a welcome victory following the recent string of setbacks on the international stage due to bullying from Beijing, such as being stripped of the right to host the East Asian Youth Games, a school choir being kept out of the United Nations building, and airlines removing Taiwan's status as a country from their websites.