On September 28, 2012, HRF held SFFF, the first satellite Freedom Forum conference, at the Bently Reserve in downtown San Francisco. Themed “Many Paths, One Goal,” SFFF brought together a global community of innovators and activists to exchange ideas on how best to protect and promote individual rights. Speakers included Burmese Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi; Saudi women’s rights pioneer Manal al-Sharif; conflict psychologist Justine Hardy; Iranian author and former prisoner of conscience Marina Nemat; Slate editor and author William J. Dobson; drug policy reformer Ethan Nadelmann; Chinese scholar and pro-democracy advocate Yang Jianli; Ghanaian economist George Ayittey; Moroccan journalist Ahmed Benchemsi; and Kazakhstani theater director Bolat Atabayev.
In her address, Daw Suu shared her experiences on the road to freedom in Burma, outlined a philosophy of non-violence, and paid tribute to the late Czech leader and playwright Václav Havel. Long persecuted by the Burmese military junta, the Nobel Laureate gave this speech as part of her first trip to the U.S. in more than 20 years. After her talk, HRF president and forum founder Thor Halvorssen presented Daw Suu with the Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent, in recognition of her “creativity and decades of determination that kept pressure on Burma’s leaders.”