NEW YORK (September 15, 2017) — The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) announces the inclusion of democracy activist and violinist Wuilly Arteaga at the upcoming Oslo Freedom Forum in New York (OFFinNY). Arteaga is best known for playing Venezuela’s national anthem in the midst of tear gas and bullets during the mass protests against Venezuela’s dictator. The 23-year-old artist will present on September 19 at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center. Arteaga was punished for his musical performances with a month-long detention in a military prison where he was tortured and forced to watch soldiers rapea female protester.
"Wuilly will find himself in a welcoming community where he will be received as a hero for his courage and willingness to use creative dissent to stand up to Nicolás Maduro’s cruelty," said Oslo Freedom Forum founder Thor Halvorssen.
Arteaga has become a symbol of the Venezuelan resistance to dictatorship, appearing at countless anti-regime protests dressed in the colors of the country’s flag and often playing the Venezuelan national anthem even as Venezuelan agents attacked protesters. Arteaga has been repeatedly harassed for his peaceful dissent, and this July he was arrested and beaten so severely, with his own instrument, that he suffered partial hearing loss. In a video he recorded from his hospital bed, his face disfigured and bandaged, he continued to be a brave voice in the struggle against the Maduro regime: “Neither rubber bullets nor pellets nor smashing my violin [will stop us]. Because whatever happens, we are going to continue the fight.”
Arteaga currently has legal restrictions imposed by the Venezuelan regime including a prohibition from participating in any demonstrations. Further, he must report himself regularly to the Venezuelan subservient courts. “We are confident that Wuilly will be able to tell his story in New York next Tuesday,” Halvorssen said.
OFFinNY is a one-day version of the annual event that takes place in Oslo, Norway, every May. Programming will include compelling talks, interactive exhibits, music, art, comedy, and conversations between courageous activists and leaders from media, philanthropy, technology, art, and business.
OFFinNY speakers include Leyla Hussein, British-Somali anti-FGM activist and psychotherapist; Vladimir Kara-Murza, leading Russian civil society organizer and survivor of two assassination attempts; Justin Kosslyn, technologist at Jigsaw, an incubator within Alphabet that builds technology to tackle some of the world’s toughest security challenges; Marina Nemat, former Iranian prisoner of conscience and author of “Prisoner of Tehran;” Steven Pinker, Harvard cognitive scientist and author of "Better Angels of Our Nature"; Srdja Popovic, nonviolent protest expert and former leader of Otpor!, the democratic movement that toppled Serbia's Slobodan Milošević; Ji Seong-ho, a North Korean defector who traveled 6,000 miles to freedom on crutches; Elif Shafak, human rights advocate, and Turkey’s most widely-read female writer; Maria Toorpakai Wazir, Pakistani squash star who hid her gender identity so she could play sports; and Bassem Youssef, Egyptian satirist and author of “Revolution for Dummies: Laughing Through the Arab Spring.”