Written by a Wikipedian from the Middle EastThis year I was offered to be part of the Oslo Free Forum 2018 conference. This conference tries to bring together notable people, including former heads of state, winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, prisoners of conscience, as well as of other public figures to network and exchange ideas about human rights and exposing dictatorships.
But why should I be invited to such a conference? I was not a head of state, I was not even a very important person if you compared me with the other guests?
The only similarity with many other participants at the conference was that I was coming from a dictatorship country. All the stories that I heard were so familiar to me. I have heard so many similar incidents happening to activist in my country, which is in the Middle East, despite having different models of government (we have kings and we have prime ministers and we have presidents). In the Middle East, they all share something very common, they hate freedom of speech, even Turkey which once were one of the most liberal Islamic countries now have has a ruler who imprisons those who disagree with him.
But I was simple Wikipedian from one of these countries, I was not even brave enough to go on the streets to march against the government. It was way dangerous for me, it was dangerous for anyone, but I think after 30 you become more cautious. But could I do anything as simple Wikipedian to make a change? Yes, I could document and write about those who were brave enough to march in the streets and got into prison. We tried to document as much as possible in Wikipedia as it was one a few outlets that people of my country had to the free world. As result of our work if you google the name of those people, now we have the record of them on the web. This was very important steps for both us and them. Those people understood that many people care about their bravery and they are not going to be forgotten. Their bravery would be kept for the future and people will learn about them.
I was invited to Oslo Freedom Forum 2018. I tried to raise awareness about this initiative to those coming from every country with the same problem as mine, dictatorship. Oslo Freedom Forum is a unique opportunity to meet these exceptional people, the kind of faces that you will never forget in your life. I would like to thank Wikimedia Norway for providing such incredible opportunity for me. Personally, I would like to thank Astrid Carlsen from Wikimedia Norway whom without her support and bravery this trip would not be possible, and I would also to Thank Oslo Freedom Forum personnel and founder for creating such amazing atmosphere for us to meet and link and learn from each other. Hopefully, one day we all will live in free countries.