Frontlines of Freedom

Empowering Dissidents, Defending Democracy

"Democracy is the most valuable hand-me-down future generations will ever receive. It must be handed down, worn, and used because only then can it be entrusted to endure as a system that ensures our hard-won freedoms are never snuffed out."
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Frontlines of Freedom (FOF) is a groundbreaking network of over 120 international freedom and democracy dissidents, united under the banner of the Renew Democracy Initiative (RDI) to champion the cause of democracy around the globe. Underpinned by our core values of courage, freedom, equality, and justice, our mission is to activate urgency, restore agency, and instill courage among citizens in free countries, empowering them to stand up against the tide of autocracy. By amplifying the lessons and lived experiences of dissidents who have faced the challenges of authoritarianism firsthand, FOF seeks to illuminate the path to a freer, more just world.

FOF defends democracy and spotlights dissident voices through:

Partnerships with leading universities via fellowships and lectures that bring dissidents’ first-hand experiences combating authoritarianism into the classroom.

Conferences, webinars, and workshops that bring together dissidents, policy influencers, journalists, and academics with networking opportunities and practical training on key issues like digital safety and immigration.

Innovative media programs like Frontlines of Freedom TV and our 2021 partnership with CNN, “Voices of Freedom,” which take the information war to the dictators’ doorsteps.

A global community of over 120 dissidents through the FOF network, providing democracy advocates with unique opportunities for connection, exposure, and professional development.

FOF on Campus

FOF brings freedom fighters who have risked everything for democracy through partnerships with universities, fellowship programs, and guest lectures that bring life under authoritarianism and the dissident experience into sharp relief for the next generation.

Each January, RDI hosts an intensive one-week course at Johns Hopkins University, inviting a different dissident as a guest lecturer each day to examine the rise of authoritarian regimes around the world and the pro-democracy protest movements organized to stop them.

RDI established a Dissident-in-Residence program in partnership with Johns Hopkins University. Sunny Cheung of Hong Kong is the Dissident-in-Residence for the 2023-2024 academic year.

At Dartmouth College’s Voices of Dissent forum, RDI’s Garry Kasparov and Evan Mawarire brought the realities of dissent under dictatorship home to 300 American students and faculty.

Stories from the Frontlines of Freedom

Frontlines of Freedom Director Evan Mawarire recorded a series of podcasts sharing his fellow dissidents’ moving stories of struggle, courage, and hope.

Meet the Director of FOF: Evan Mawarire

Evan Mawarire helped bring down a dictator in his native Zimbabwe. He has fought tirelessly for freedom and has the scars to prove it.

A pastor in his homeland, Evan launched the #ThisFlag movement in 2016—starting a chain of events that ended with the downfall of strongman Robert Mugabe after nearly forty years in power. For his activism, Evan was named one of Foreign Policy magazine’s Top 100 Global Thinkers. He has also been a visiting fellow at Yale University, Johns Hopkins University, and University of Pennsylvania.

However, his path was not easy. Evan was jailed, tortured, and eventually exiled. But this hasn’t stopped him. Fighting for democracy has become his life’s work. Having started with fighting a dictator in Zimbabwe, Evan is now fighting to stop dictators and their supporters everywhere through his work with RDI.

Georgetown SFS Graduation Speech

Georgetown SFS Graduation Speech

Mawarire offered words of hope and resilience to graduates at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service Commencement Ceremony in May 2023.
#ThisFlag at the Oslo Freedom Forum

#ThisFlag at the Oslo Freedom Forum

At the Oslo Freedom Forum in 2017 whilst out of prison on bail, Evan Mawarire boldly made an impassioned call for the world to rally behind Zimbabweans fighting for freedom. His #ThisFlag video inspired a movement to rebuild the nation. Despite imprisonment and political repression by the Mugabe regime, Evan remains committed to a free Zimbabwe.
Yale Jackson School of Global Affairs

Yale Jackson School of Global Affairs

Evan Mawarire spoke at the Yale Jackson School of Global Affairs on how democracy was eroded in Zimbabwe and the work he and other activists inspired to reclaim it.