“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.”

Evan Mawarire


Frontlines of Freedom (FOF) is a groundbreaking network of over 120 international dissidents and activists from over 40 countries, united under the banner of the Renew Democracy Initiative (RDI) to champion the cause of freedom around the globe. They are uniquely positioned to break through partisan shields and reveal the dangerous influence of authoritarians, demonstrate how these dictators are collaborating, and most importantly, remind those of us living in the Free World how inspirational our democracies truly are and how important they are to defend.  By amplifying the lessons and  experiences of dissidents who have faced the challenges of authoritarianism firsthand, FOF seeks to illuminate the path to a freer, more just world.

What We Do

FOF defends democracy and spotlights dissident voices through:

What we Do

FOF defends democracy and spotlights dissident voices through:

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.

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.

A global community of over 120 dissidents which can serve as an important resource (professionally, personally, and politically) for the broader pro-democracy community as well as for one another. 

Voices of Freedom with CNN

RDI launched Frontlines of Freedom in 2021 through a partnership with CNN called “Voices of Freedom,” elevating the inspiring stories of 13 democracy dissidents who shared their firsthand experiences of dictatorship as a stark reminder to Americans of the value of their own democracy.

FOF on Campus

FOF builds partnerships with universities, fellowship programs, and guest lectures to 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.

FOF Conference on Transnational Repression

Chinese police stations in New York. Pegasus spyware hidden on activists’ phones. Murder attempts in broad daylight. The struggle between free societies and dictatorships isn’t some distant battle on foreign shores. It’s playing out on American soil and in other democratic countries.

RDI is fighting back with the annual Frontlines of Freedom Conference on transnational repression. By uniting pro-democracy NGOs, policy experts, journalists, and business leaders and dissidents from around the world, we’re raising the alarm about the long arm of authoritarianism and pushing for the United States to keep dissidents who seek safe haven in America safe. Read the open letter from our 2023 conference


Frontlines of Freedom TV is a new and unique online pilot program that highlights the threats posed by dictators and their apologists—whether their talking points come from Moscow or Mar-A-Lago, Tucker or Tehran—in ways legacy media outlets can’t.

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.

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.


Mawarire offered words of hope and resilience to graduates at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service Commencement Ceremony in May 2023.


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.


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.

Meet us on the Frontlines

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Our work relies on generous individuals dedicated to supporting those on the frontlines of freedom and amplifying their courageous stories. We hope you will join us with a donation today. Please email giving@rdi.org for more information on how you can support our democracy dissidents!

If you are a democracy dissident interested in joining the Frontlines of Freedom network, please email fof@rdi.org for more information.

Frontlines of Freedom