Freedom Forward works to end U.S. alliances with nondemocratic governments, including dictators, kings, and apartheid systems. U.S. foreign policy should be aligned with the value of global freedom. We work to make it happen.
For too long, U.S. foreign policy has directly contradicted U.S. government rhetoric. While U.S. officials talk about freedom, the U.S. government maintains alliances with governments that brutalize critics and silence dissent at home.
We seek an end to U.S. alliances with dictators, kings, and apartheid governments. We envision a world in which U.S. foreign policy is fully aligned with the hopes and aspirations of people who desire freedom.
We combine strategic research, advocacy, and solidarity-based activism to achieve changes in U.S. foreign policy and expanded freedom in societies that struggle under repressive U.S.-backed governments. We build direct civil society pressure on repressive governments that are backed by the U.S., as well as the private entities that enable such repression or profit silently while others suffer. We seek a culture shift in the discourse of U.S. foreign policy, and we engage other organizations in pursuit of this.
In the words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government” as “expressed in periodic and genuine elections.” We oppose U.S. military and diplomatic support to governments that violate this principle. Our human rights agenda includes advocacy for the right to vote, as well as the rights to freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of association, and freedom of thought, conscience, and religion. We believe that the principles of government transparency and accountability are critical to the protection of these human rights.
Freedom Forward endorses the human rights articulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. We specifically focus our efforts on defending the civil and political rights enumerated in these documents, as well as the right of workers to form unions. Far too many U.S.-backed governments violate these fundamental freedoms.
Through our focus on stopping U.S. support for repressive governments, we aspire to help build a world in which every person lives free of physical violence, coercion, structural violence, and institutional discrimination. All people should live in political systems that foster liberty, justice, equity, access to opportunity, and fundamental dignity.
Freedom Forward also stands in solidarity with communities inside the U.S. that struggle against racism, poverty, and domestic repression. While many U.S. citizens and residents live with the benefit of constitutionally protected freedoms, the promise of those written freedoms often remains unfulfilled. We note that the same companies that profit from U.S. relationships with repressive governments often simultaneously participate in the expansion of repressive systems inside the U.S., including prison systems, government surveillance, and militarized law enforcement.
In too many places, U.S. foreign policy provides military and diplomatic support to governments that crush hope. U.S. citizens and taxpayers deserve better. When people around the world seek freedom from dictatorship and occupation, our own government should not be investing in the wrong side. Join us.
Nafisa Haji, Advisory Board
Nafisa Haji is a novelist and educator. She is the author of “The Sweetness of Tears” (HarperCollins, 2011) and “The Writing on My Forehead” (William Morrow, 2009). Ms. Haji was born and mostly raised in Los Angeles, and has lived in Chicago, Karachi, Manila, and London. Her family originally migrated from Bombay to Karachi in 1947 during Partition, when the Indian Subcontinent was divided into two states, and later to the United States. Ms. Haji previously taught elementary school in downtown Los Angeles for seven years in a bilingual Spanish program, and speaks Spanish fluently. She has served on the board at the Marin Interfaith Council, where she represented the International Association of Sufism. She holds a BA in American History from the University of California at Berkeley and a PhD in Education from the University of California at Los Angeles.
Rahim Kurwa is an Assistant Professor of Criminology, Law, and Justice at the University of Illinois – Chicago. He has served on the steering committees for the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights and the National Students for Justice in Palestine. Mr. Kurwa received his PhD in Sociology from the University of California at Los Angeles in 2018. His work is focused on understanding how communities reproduce racial segregation in an era governed by fair housing law, particularly through policing. More specifically his work touches upon the family implications of the policing of housing assistance, the interrelatedness of policing and segregation, and the history of policing in public housing and its successor programs.
Josh Ruebner, Advisory Board
Josh Ruebner is the Senior Principal at Progress Up Consulting. He has two decades of experience as an analyst for Congressional Research Service and as a policy director for the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights. He is the author of two books: “Shattered Hopes: Obama’s Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace” (Verso Books, 2013) and “Israel: Democracy or Apartheid State?” (Olive Branch Press, 2017). Mr. Ruebner’s analysis and commentary on U.S. policy toward the Middle East has appeared in media outlets including NBC, ABC Nightline, C-SPAN, Al Jazeera, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, The Hill, Detroit Free Press, Huffington Post, Middle East Report, and more. Mr. Ruebner is a former analyst in Middle East Affairs at Congressional Research Service, a federal government agency providing Members of Congress with policy analysis. He holds a graduate degree in International Affairs from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC.
Sunjeev Bery, Director
Sunjeev Bery (@SunjeevBery) serves as director of Freedom Forward. Previously, Bery served as advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) at Amnesty International USA, where he lobbied U.S. officials, diplomats, and officeholders regarding human rights concerns across the MENA region; as a regional director for the American Civil Liberties Union, where his work included advocacy on post-9/11 security policies; as a public interest lobbyist on student financial aid issues in Washington, DC; and as a fundraiser for environmental and human rights organizations. His commentaries on U.S. foreign policy and human rights have appeared in a range of U.S. newspapers and publications.
Bery holds a B.A. from UC Berkeley and an M.P.A. from the Harvard Kennedy School, where he was a Harvard Public Service Fellow. He is a recipient of the 2007 Asian Law Alliance Community Impact Award and has received commendations from the California State Senate and Assembly for his human rights advocacy.