Internet Freedom Fellows 2012 (IFF)

Ambassador Donahoe at a Press Briefing with the 2012 Internet Freedom Fellows

Ambassador Donahoe at a Press Briefing with the 2012 Internet Freedom Fellows

The Internet Freedom Fellows program brings human rights activists from across the globe to Geneva, Washington, and Silicon Valley to meet with fellow activists, U.S. and international government leaders, and members of civil society and the private sector engaged in technology and human rights.    A key goal of the program is to share experiences and lessons learned on the importance of a free Internet to the promotion of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly as fundamental human rights.  The June 19-29, 2012 program included a panel discussion and webcast at the United Nations during the 20th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, as well as panel discussions at Georgetown and Stanford Universities.  Launched in 2011, the program is run by the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva.

This year’s Internet Freedom Fellows, all human rights activists and active practitioners of digital media, are from Syria, India, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Venezuela and Azerbaijan.    The 2012 Fellows are:

Dlshad Othman (Syria): Mr. Othman is a Syrian activist and IT engineer who provides Syrians with digital security resources and assistance so that they can utilize online communications and advocacy freely and securely in spite of increased online government repression in the form of censorship, sophisticated cyber attacks, and intense surveillance.

Pranesh Prakash (India): Mr. Prakash is a program manager at the Centre for Internet and Society in Bangalore. He works primarily in areas where technology and public policy intersect, engaging in research and policy advocacy on issues relating to online freedom of expression, access to knowledge, intellectual property rights reform, and Internet governance.

Koundjoro Gabriel Kambou (Burkina Faso): Mr. Kambou is a journalist-reporter at and an animator of blogs. He campaigns for and promotes human rights and the values of democracy and freedom of the press. He publishes videos and articles to sensitize people to and educate them on human rights issues.

Sopheap Chak (Cambodia): Ms. Chak is the Program Director of the Cambodia Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and is one of Cambodia’s leading human rights bloggers. She mobilizes young activists around the country in civic engagement through the Cambodian Youth Network for Change. She is a contributing author for Global Voice Online, UPI Asia Online, and Furutre Challenges.

Andres Azpurua (Venezuela): Mr. Azpurua is committed to generating digital tools that empower Venezuelans to better exercise their human rights. He has contributed o the creation of a digital platform that promotes and defends voters’ rights. He is also the founder of a digital initiative that seeks to build a volunteer base from civil society to promote the right of association in Venezuela.

Emin Milli (Azerbaijan): Mr. Milli is a writer and a dissident who has actively used online networking tools to spread information about human rights violations in Azerbaijan. He was imprisoned for 16  months for his critical views about the government of Azerbaijan. He was conditionally released in 2010 and is currently writing his dissertation in London on “New Media and Arab Revolutions”.

During the program the Fellows spoke at a series of events in Switzerland and the United States to describe their own experiences on the frontlines of Internet Freedom, and discuss the challenges the global community faces as we grapple with issues of privacy and security while working to protect and preserve the Internet’s enormous promise for advancing human rights and individual liberties.

In Geneva the Fellows were joined by special guest, acclaimed author and proponent of a free Internet, Rebecca MacKinnon – author of the recently released book: Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle for Internet Freedom. Ms. MacKinnon spoke on the fundamental question of how technology should be structured and governed to support the rights and liberties of all the world’s Internet users.

Photo Gallery from the 2012 Program



Internet Freedom Fellows 2011

The 2011 Fellows (from China, Tunisia, Korea, and Uganda, Burma and Indonesia) with Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe at the United Nations in Geneva

The United States Mission and the Institute for Media and Global Governance (IMGG) nominated seven”Internet Freedom Fellows” writers, bloggers and journalists from around the world who are using social media, mobile communications and digital networks to promote human rights at the grass roots level. The Fellows spent three days in Geneva June 8-10, 2011 in discussions with diplomats, NGOs and international organizations before going to Washington D.C. for a similar program.

The 2011 Fellows were:

Egypt – Wael Abbas
Burma – Aung San Thar
Uganda – Rosebell Kagumire
Indonesia – Andreas Harsono
Tunisia – Henda Chennaoui
China – Wen Yunchao (Bei Fung)
Korea – Kwon Eun Kyoung

Photo Gallery (2011 Program)