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Founded 2008
Fields Human rights
Key people
David Keyes, Director
Website is a division of Advancing Human Rights, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization. focuses on the human rights of online political activists. The group believes that highlighting the plight of individual democratic dissidents in the West affords a measure of protection against government oppression.


Founded in 2008, originally focused on autocratic Middle Eastern countries. The organization’s co-founder and director, David Keyes, served previously as coordinator for democracy programs under Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky. Keyes has written for The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, The Daily Beast, National Review, The Jerusalem Post and other publications.[1][2][3]

Relying on a broad network of bloggers in the region, monitors, analyses and publicizes dissidents’ activities in the West. Its staff meet frequently with policy-makers in the United States, Middle East and Europe. promotes linkage between foreign aid and human rights.

The organization aims to utilize the findings of psychology professor Paul Slovic who studied the phenomenon of indifference in the face of humanitarian disasters. Professor Slovic has written that highlighting individuals is the most effective way of provoking sympathy and concern for a cause.[4] This is seen in the organization’s “Featured CyberDissident” which focuses on a particular dissident’s story.

Now incorporated into Advancing Human Rights, CyberDissidents serves as a database of dissident writing and can be found at the AHR website.[permanent dead link]

Board of advisors[edit]

Bernard Lewis, Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, served on’s board of advisers for the first two years of its existence.

In 2011, Keyes partnered with founding chairman emeritus of Human Rights Watch, Bob Bernstein,to form Advancing Human Rights.

Syrian dissident Ahed Al Hendi is the coordinator for Arabic programs at Al Hendi fled Syria and is currently a refugee living in the United States. Imprisoned and tortured by the Syrian government, Al Hendi has worked with the Samir Kassir Foundation in Lebanon as its Syrian researcher and writes frequently in favor of democracy in the Middle East. He has been cited in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and writes for several Arabic papers including Al Mustaqbal.[5][6][7] In 2010, he was a featured speaker at the Bush Foundation Conference on CyberDissidents where he met with President Bush.[5]


On June 11, 2010, Keyes hosted a panel in the United States Congress. The briefing was held in the Committee on Foreign Affairs and addressed the issue of technology, Internet and access to independent media in Iran. Former Iranian deputy Prime Minister in Political Affairs, Mohsen Sazegara, and former senior director for Middle East Affairs in the National Security Council, Michael Singh joined the briefing. The panel was broadcast live on C-SPAN [2]. sparked international controversy following an op-ed authored by the organisation's director on February 16, 2010, in The Wall Street Journal criticizing Turkey’s ban on YouTube,[8] which launched a protest movement in Turkey. According to PBS, Keyes’ piece which was written from Istanbul, caused the Turkish newspaper Milliyet, together with other leading Turkish papers, to initiate a protest campaign to draw attention to the ban on YouTube.[9] Shortly after the publication of Keyes' article, Turkish president Abdullah Gul came out against the ban.[10]

The organization has been featured in a wide array of press, including the Boston Globe,[1] the Wall Street Journal,[5][11] Voice of America and Alhurra television.

In 2008 and 2009, coordinated global protests at Egyptian embassies and university campuses in the United States, Canada and Israel in support of Egyptian blogger Abdul Kareem Nabil Suleiman (also known as Kareem Amer), who was jailed in 2007 for criticizing Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and “insulting Islam.”[12] board member and former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky supported the protests, stating that “freedom of speech is an inalienable right. Suppressing that right contravenes human decency and makes a mockery of the democratic ideal.”[13]

See also[edit]

  1. ^ a b Jacoby, Jeff (April 28, 2010). "Medium isn't the message". Boston Globe. Retrieved June 13, 2018. 
  2. ^ Keyes, David. “Egypt’s Internet Crackdown”, ‘’The Daily Beast’’, January 25, 2010. Retrieved on 2010-07-16.
  3. ^ Keyes, David. “Abdullah’s U.N. Ploy” Archived 2012-07-18 at, ‘’National Review’’, November 25, 2008. Retrieved on 2010-07-16.
  4. ^ Slovic, Paul. "’If I look at the mass I will never act’: Psychic numbing and genocide" Retrieved on 2010-07-08.
  5. ^ a b c Weiss, Bari (April 24, 2010). "Miss Me Yet? The Freedom Agenda After George W. Bush". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved June 13, 2018. 
  6. ^ Cambanis, Thanassis. “Challenged, Syria Extends Crackdown on Dissent” The New York Times, New York, December 14, 2007. Retrieved on 2010-07-16.
  7. ^ Al Hendi, Ahed. [1] ‘‘Al Mustaqbal’’, August 26, 2007. Retrieved on 2010-07-16.
  8. ^ Keyes, David. "Turkey’s Internet Repression", The Wall Street Journal, New York, February 16, 2010. Retrieved on 2010-05-19.
  9. ^ Le Coz, Clothilde. "Turkish Reporters Unite to Protest YouTube Ban", PBS, Washington DC, March 9, 2010. Retrieved on 2010-05-19.
  10. ^ "Abdullah Gul against bans on Youtube, Google", Hurriyet Daily News, June 12, 2010. Retrieved on 2010-08-23.
  11. ^ Keyes, David. "Ahmadinejad, the Blogger", The Wall Street Journal, New York, December 1, 2009. Retrieved on 2010-05-19.
  12. ^ Gur, Haviv Rettig. "Activists to protest for release of Egyptian dissident", The Jerusalem Post, Jerusalem, September 15, 2009. Retrieved on 2010-07-07.
  13. ^ Gur, Haviv Rettig. "Sharansky slams Egypt for jailing dissident blogger", The Jerusalem Post, Jerusalem, November 8, 2008. Retrieved on 2010-07-07.