A human rights investigator with more than three decades of experience worldwide, Dr. Anderson is professor of law at the Washington College of Law, American University and a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. He is a recognized authority on international human rights and served on the board of directors of Americas Watch (the precursor to Human Rights Watch). He is also founder and former director of the Human Rights Watch Arms Division. His expertise includes war and armed conflict, terrorism, nonprofit and charitable organizations, philanthropy, development finance and microcredit, and international business. For several years he served as general counsel to George Soros' charitable foundation, the Open Society Institute. He was the legal editor for Crimes of War (W.W. Norton, 1999). A Harvard Law School graduate, Dr. Anderson was the John Harvey Gregory Lecturer on World Organization at Harvard Law School from 1993 to 1995. He is a member of the Human Rights Foundation’s International Council.
Vladimir Bukovsky is a Soviet dissident, author, and human rights activist who spent a total of twelve years in Soviet prisons, labor camps, and forced-treatment psychiatric hospitals. As a student, Mr. Bukovsky was expelled from his Moscow school for creating an unauthorized magazine. Subsequently he was forcibly interned in a psychiatric ward for organizing poetry meetings in the center of Moscow. On three more occasions he was arrested and imprisoned for organizing demonstrations defending other Soviet dissidents. After he managed to smuggle to the West documents detailing the Soviets' political use of psychiatric institutions, he was arrested and convicted for “slander of Soviet psychiatry.” While in prison he co-authored A Manual on Psychiatry for Dissidents to help other dissidents fight psychiatric torture. In December 1976, Bukovsky was exchanged in Zurich for Chilean communist leader Louis Corvalan. He moved to England, where he published his bestselling autobiography, To Build a Castle: My Life As a Dissenter. In 1983, with Armando Valladares, he founded and was elected president of Resistance International, which fought for the freedom of political prisoners throughout the Communist bloc. In 1992, President Yeltsin’s government invited Bukovsky to serve as an expert witness at the trial conducted to determine whether the activity of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was unconstitutional. The result of his testimony and research was the book Judgment in Moscow. In January 2004, with Garry Kasparov and others, he founded the Committee of 2008, an umbrella organization of the Russian democratic opposition that aims to ensure free and fair presidential elections in 2008. Bukovsky is also the author of Soviet Hypocrisy and Western Gullibility and To Choose Freedom. He is a member of the Human Rights Foundation’s International Council.
Born in a Tibetan village in 1933, Palden Gyatso had the opportunity as a young man to study at the renowned Deprung Monastery. Gyatso was ordained a Buddhist monk in 1950, two years after the Chinese invasion of Tibet. In 1959, he was arrested, tortured, and sent to Panam Dzong Prison on trumped-up charges of resisting Chinese occupation and spying for India; at this time, many other monks were also incarcerated or executed as political reactionaries. Gyatso would remain in Chinese prisons and labor camps for the next thirty-three years, during which he was regularly tortured, interrogated, indoctrinated, and persecuted for refusing to recant his religious and political beliefs. After watching many of his fellow prisoners executed on the strength of “confessions” extracted by physical and mental torture, Gyatso was eventually released from captivity in 1992. He escaped across the Himalayas into India, smuggling Chinese torture instruments as material proof of human rights abuses in Tibet. Since then, he has traveled widely to publicize the plight of Tibet's political prisoners; in 1995 he gave evidence at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva. He has also written a memoir, published in English in 1997 as The Autobiography of a Tibetan Monk, in which Gyatso elegantly bears witness to the physical and mental anguish endured by Tibetan political prisoners, proudly upholds the resilience of the human spirit, and pays tribute to Tibetan culture's proud endurance under conditions of cultural genocide. He is a member of the Human Rights Foundation’s International Council.
Václav Havel – Chairman Emeritus [1936-2011] An influential author, poet, playwright, and public intellectual, Václav Havel was the last president of Czechoslovakia and the first president of the Czech Republic. In 1977, he co-founded Charter 77, an organization dedicated to the promotion of human rights and democracy in the face of Soviet occupation. Two years later, his human rights activism earned him a four-year sentence to a labor camp for “subversion.” Undeterred, Havel was instrumental in the Velvet Revolution – the peaceful uprising that overthrew the communist regime in Czechoslovakia in 1989 – and was elected as the country's first non-communist leader. After he retired from public office, Havel continued to be an important voice for democracy, human rights, and liberty worldwide. He is chairman emeritus of the Human Rights Foundation’s International Council.
Garry Kasparov - Chairman
A chess grandmaster since age 17, Garry Kasparov is widely considered to be the greatest chess player of all time. He holds records for the all time highest chess rating, the most consecutive chess tournament victories, the most Chess Oscars, and the longest time as the #1 rated chess player in world history. In 2004, Mr. Kasparov founded the Committee 2008: Free Choice group of Russian freedom advocates with the stated purpose of working for fair, democratic elections in Russia in 2008. He retired from chess in 2005 to devote himself fulltime to writing and human rights advocacy. An outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mr. Kasparov created the United Civil Front, a social movement with a mission to prevent Russia from returning to totalitarianism. He is a frequent contributor to the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and various other news publications. He is the chairman of the Human Rights Foundation’s International Council.
Mart Laar was twice prime minister of Estonia. He led the struggling Baltic nation from a collapsing socialized system to a thriving economy after the end of Soviet occupation. His commitment to individual rights and limited government arises from his wider commitment to liberty. The Nazis shot his grandfather, and several other relatives were political prisoners under the Soviet regime that occupied Estonia for 50 years. During the late 1980s, Mr. Laar risked censure as a leader of Estonia’s Singing Revolution, a peaceful four-year struggle for freedom centered on the public performance of illegal patriotic songs. He also risked the wrath of Soviet authorities when, as a young historian, he dared to investigate Estonia’s resistance movement. The resulting book, War of the Woods: Estonia’s Struggle for Survival, 1944-1956, was published in 1992. His intimate knowledge of totalitarianism has inspired his work. In 2006, Mr. Laar won the Cato Institute’s Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty. He is a member of the Human Rights Foundation’s International Council.
Jacqueline Moudeina Jacqueline Moudeina is a prominent human rights activist and one of Chad’s first female lawyers. She was one of the lawyers involved in the international case against former dictator Hissène Habré. Her work has endangered her life, including a 2001 grenade attack that required 15 months of medical treatment in Paris. Though many of Habré’s accomplices still hold positions of power today, Moudeina remains undeterred by the prospect of making dangerous enemies for herself, continuing to represent victims of Habré’s regime. Moudeina is also a member of the Chadian Association for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights, where she provides free legal advice and human rights awareness training. She has earned numerous international accolades, including the 2002 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders. She is a member of the Human Rights Foundation's International Council.
Abdel Nasser Ould Ethmane Abdel Nasser Ould Ethmane is the co-founder of SOS Slaves, a Paris-based international organization dedicated to ending slavery in Mauritania. Born into the elite-warrior caste and son of a Mauritanian politician, he saw firsthand the pervasive nature of slavery in his country despite its official abolition in 1981. In 1995, Ould Ethmane and a partner, Boubacar Messaoud, a former slave in Mauritania, started SOS Slaves to garner global support to end the rampant human rights abuses occurring in Mauritania as well as provide legal aid and covert rescue operations for current slaves. In addition to his anti-slavery work, Ould Ethmane has also served as advisor to the United Nations Office for West Africa and as a Special Advisor to former Mauritanian President Ould Daddah. He is a member of the Human Rights Foundation’s International Council.
Park Sang-hak Park Sang-hak is a North Korean democracy activist. Park worked at a propaganda unit of the Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League until 1999, when Park’s father, a spy for the North Korean government, urged the family to defect to South Korea. Since then, Park has been laboring for the democratization of his homeland. He is the chairman of Fighters for a Free North Korea, whose activities include the launching of nearly 2 million balloons containing human rights and pro-democracy literature into North Korea. He is also a member of the Democracy Network Against the North Korean Gulag and the Exile Committee for North Korean Democracy. He is a member of the Human Rights Foundation’s International Council.
Mutabar Tadjibaeva is a human rights activist from Uzbekistan who was sentenced to 8 years of imprisonment after denouncing the government's crackdown on human rights defenders. Amnesty International believed authorities detained her to prevent her from speaking out about the 2005 Andizhan massacre, in which government forces killed and wounded a largely unarmed crowd of protesters. While incarcerated she endured solitary confinement, abuse, and forced psychiatric treatment, and was only released on parole in 2008 because she has cancer and was not receiving proper care. She is the chairwoman of the human rights organization Fiery Hearts Club, based in Ferghana City, and is also one of the founders of the national movement Civil Society. Tadjibaeva has monitored human rights violations in the Ferghana Valley and has reported on issues such as the violations of women’s rights to the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), an international non-governmental organization that trains journalists in human rights reporting. She received the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders in 2008 and was nominated for the Nobel Prize in 2005. She is a member of the Human Rights Foundation’s International Council.
Álvaro Vargas Llosa
A renowned journalist and author, Mr. Vargas Llosa is one of Latin America’s foremost political analysts. He is senior fellow and director of the Center on Global Prosperity at The Independent Institute and has also been a board member of the Miami Herald Publishing Company. The author or co-author of twelve books focusing on human rights, economics, and the history of Latin American politics, he has also been an op-ed page editor and columnist at the Miami Herald as well as a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, BBC World Service, and TIMEMagazine. He won the 2006 Fisher Award for his book Liberty for Latin America, which analyzes human liberty, personal responsibility, the rule of law, and the state’s role in enabling and sustaining human oppression. Mr. Vargas Llosa is a graduate of the London School of Economics. He is a member of the Human Rights Foundation’s International Council.
Ramón José Velásquez
A historian, university professor, and former president of Venezuela (1993-1994), Ramón José Velásquez was jailed several times in the 1950s under the dictatorship of General Marcos Perez Jimenez. One of his arrests was due to his coauthoring the Black Book of the Dictatorship, a truthful account of the human rights violations of the government. During Venezuela’s first democratic government he served as chief of staff. In 1993, as a result of the institutional crisis produced by the impeachment of the President Carlos Andrés Pérez, the Venezuelan Congress designated him president of the Republic. During his distinguished public service career Mr. Velásquez has been a senator, congressional deputy, minister of communication, and cabinet secretary. Mr. Velásquez has also been actively involved in reporting the political and social history of Venezuela, contributing to newspapers and publishing several books. He was director of the Venezuelan national newspaper El Nacional and founder of the newspaper El Mundo. He was awarded the María Moors Cabot award in 1967 by Columbia’s School of Journalism. He is a member of the Human Rights Foundation’s International Council.
Elie Wiesel Elie Wiesel was fifteen years old when the Nazis deported him and his family to the Auschwitz concentration camps. After the war was over, he was eventually persuaded to write about his Holocaust experiences, producing his internationally-acclaimed memoir, Night, which ranks among the definitive works of Holocaust literature. Appointed chairman of the U.S. President's Commission on the Holocaust in 1978, Wiesel became the Founding Chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council in 1980. He is the founding president of the Paris-based Universal Academy of Cultures and the Chairman of the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity. He has held professorships at the City University of New York, Yale University, and Barnard College, and is currently the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University. A lifelong human rights advocate, he has defended the cause of Soviet Jews, Nicaragua's Miskito Indians, Argentina's Desaparecidos, Cambodian refugees, the Kurds, victims of famine and genocide in Africa, of apartheid in South Africa, and victims of war in the former Yugoslavia. He has won numerous awards for his achievements in literature and human rights, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor, the Medal of Liberty Award, election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the rank of Grand-Croix in the French Legion of Honor, an honorary knighthood in the United Kingdom, as well as more than a hundred honorary degrees from institutions of higher learning. In 1986, Mr. Wiesel won the Nobel Prize for Peace. He has published more than forty works of fiction and nonfiction. He is a member of the Human Rights Foundation’s International Council.
James Q. Wilson [1931 – 2012]
A recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Dr. Wilson is currently the Ronald Reagan Professor of Public Policy at Pepperdine University; he was formerly professor of government at Harvard University and professor of management and public policy at UCLA. Dr. Wilson is the author of fourteen books on the nature of human morality, government, and criminal justice. His textbook on American government is more widely used on university campuses than any other government textbook. Wilson is past president of the American Political Science Association, which presented him with its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001. Dr. Wilson has served on a number of national public policy commissions, and is an elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. He is a member of the Human Rights Foundation’s International Council.
The founder of the Laogai Research Foundation, Harry Wu has worked tirelessly for nearly two decades to alert the world to the abusive and inhumane conditions in China’s forced labor camps (laogai). Mr. Wu was a college student when he was imprisoned in the laogai after he criticized communism. He remained in prison for nineteen years, doing physical labor and witnessing the brutal deaths of countless fellow prisoners. He was regularly forced to “confess” his crimes. Released in 1979, he taught geology for several years at a Chinese university, and in 1985 settled in the U.S. In 1990, he was asked to testify about the laogai before the U.S. Senate, an experience that launched his career as a human rights activist. In 1992, he devoted himself fulltime to educating people about the laogai. On a research trip to China in 1995, he was arrested, tried, and convicted for “spreading state secrets,” and was sentenced to fifteen years in prison. Thanks to an international movement to free him, the Chinese government ejected him from the country rather than compel him to serve his sentence. Mr. Wu is the author of Bitter Winds: A Memoir of My Years in China’s Gulag. He lectures around the world, testifies regularly before governing bodies, and has received a number of awards for his humanitarian efforts, including the Award for Human Rights Defenders from Switzerland’s Martin Ennals Foundation, the Freedom Award from the Hungarian Freedom Fighters’ Federation, and the Medal of Freedom from the Dutch World War II Resistance Foundation. He is a member of the Human Rights Foundation’s International Council.