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On March 28, the Bush Institute’s Freedom Collection website was officially launched at an event in Dallas. The new website documents the stories of democracy and human rights activists and dissidents from around the world. Initially, the Freedom Collection features the stories of 35 brave men and women, with more interviews being added on an ongoing basis. The Dallas event included an appearance via video teleconference by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, the first democratically elected female head of state in Africa and 2011 Nobel Peace Prize laureate. President Sirleaf spoke movingly about her country’s transition to democracy and the critical role of international support during the process. A highlight of last week’s event was the attendance of a number of the dissidents featured on the Freedom Collection. Doan Viet Hoat spent years in Vietnamese prison camps for his efforts on freedom of expression and other basic human rights before his release and emigration to the United States in 1998. Venezuela’s Cristal Montañéz Baylor served as president of the International Venezuelan Council for Democracy from 2003 to 2008, an organization dedicated to advancing democratic values and institutions, preserving Venezuela's tradition of free and fair elections, and promoting accountability in government. Marcel Granier, also from Venezuela, is the CEO of his country’s most important private television station, RCTV, a frequent target of the Chavez government. Ammar Abdulhamid is one of Syria’s best known activists and bloggers, forced into exile by the Assad regime in 2005. Pastor Bob Fu was active in China’s student movement before he converted to Christianity and became a leader in the underground house church movement. Constancio Pinto was tortured in prison for his role in Timor-Leste’s battle for independence; he serves today as his country’s ambassador to the United States. Iran’s Mohsen Sazegara broke with and spoke out against his country’s repressive regime; after imprisonment, he immigrated to the United States, where he continues to advocate for democracy and human rights in his homeland. The event also included a video message from Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, a leading Cuban dissident and champion of human rights. Dr. Biscet, a former political prisoner, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bush in 2007. Dr. Biscet’s representative, Dr. Angel Garrido, Vice President of the Lawton Foundation, presented the medal back to President Bush for safekeeping in the Freedom Collection until Cuba is free. The inspiring stories of these and other activists on the Freedom Collection serve as a source of inspiration for men and women everywhere, who are struggling to improve conditions in their countries. They also serve as a powerful reminder for those of us blessed to live in free societies of our moral responsibility to support them in their efforts. As President Bush said, “We believe that deep in the soul of every man and woman on earth is the desire to live in a free society. We believe that freedom yields peace and therefore, we believe it’s in our nation’s interest that we stand side-by-side with dissidents. The Freedom Collection honors courage. It reminds us of our duty to be always on the side of human rights and human dignity.” This post was written by Lindsay Lloyd, Program Director of the Freedom Collection at the George W. Bush Institute.
Lindsay Lloyd is the Deputy Director of the Human Freedom Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute, where he manages original research and programmatic efforts to advance freedom and democracy in the world. Lindsay currently leads the Bush Institute’s Freedom in North Korea project, which raises awareness of human rights violations in North Korea, proposes new policy solutions, and engages leaders to help improve the lives of the North Korean people. Lindsay is also responsible for managing the Freedom Collection, a multimedia archive that documents the stories of nonviolent freedom advocates from around the word.
Prior to joining the Bush Institute, Lindsay served for 16 years at the International Republican Institute (IRI), most recently as senior advisor for policy. Previously, he was IRI’s regional director for Europe and co-director of the regional program for Central and Eastern Europe, which was based in Slovakia. At IRI, Lindsay worked with candidates, elected officials, political parties, and civil society activists to develop lasting democratic institutions.
Before joining IRI, Lindsay worked for several members and the leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives, as political director for a political action committee, and for Jack Kemp’s 1988 presidential campaign. He graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.Full Bio
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