This blog post was sent in by Yaël Ossowski, Executive Board Member of European Students For Liberty

OSLO — For three days in the chilly capital of Norway, activists, human rights crusaders, and opinion makers from across the globe convened to discuss the state of human freedom in the world today. 

The event was about documenting tragedies, removing the stigma of victimization and offering solutions to counter repressive regimes and governments. These individuals met from May 13-15 at the 5th annual Oslo Freedom Forum, in the same city where the first Nobel Peace Prize was awarded nearly 112 years ago.

The Freedom Forum was first conceived by Thor Halvorsseen, a young Venezuelan activist who founded the Human Rights Foundation.

At the opening press conference, Halvorssen summed up the case for the Freedom Forum in just a few words. “We can no longer solely rely on governments to protect human rights,” said Halvorssen. “We must bring that message to all those to seek to oppress and limit freedom.” 

True to this message was the theme of the 2013 conference: “Challenging Power.” 

Members of Students For Liberty’s European and International Executive Board were on hand to engage with true freedom fighters and advocates for liberty, who strived even in the face of violence and tyrannical rule.

Speakers from Tibet, Bahrain, Syria, Cuba and more gathered to tell their stories about fighting for freedom.

The first inspirational speaker to address the audience was Chen Guangcheng, the self-taught legal worker who was forced to seek asylum in the U.S. embassy after Chinese authorities imprisoned him for filing lawsuits challenging the one-child policy and upholding the land rights of poor, rural farmers. 

“China will undergo a transformation, and we must turn our attention from Communist party officials to the people,” said Guangcheng. “People are the true actors in the life of a nation and society.” 

His inspirational message awoke many in the audience to the growing demand for democracy and self-rule in China, which Guangcheng sees as both inevitable and necessary.