At the Bitcoin 2022 conference in Miami, probably the most important panel presented was about global financial inclusion. To many, Bitcoin is not just something of monetary value, but the only technology that can be a tool for freedom, decolonization, autonomy, and peace.
The discussion was moderated by the Human Rights Foundation’s (HRF’s) chief strategy officer Alex Gladstein, joined by the panelists Farida Nabourema, Togolese human rights defender; North Korean defector, human rights activist, and HRF board member Yeonmi Park; and Palestinian anti-corruption advocate, Fadi Elsalameen.
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They cleverly discussed the impact Bitcoin can have on dissidents, refugees, and oppressed individuals living under authoritarian and military regimes.
Bitcoin V. Fiat Schemes
Hearing the voices from North Korea, Palestine, and Togo, it becomes obvious why bitcoin is so much more than an investment, it’s a tool of empowerment in a world where 87% of the population doesn’t have “property rights, free speech, a functioning legal system, and stable reserve currencies,” as the intro pointed out.
Bitcoin “runs on a network that does not discriminate”, the clever intro follows, and a few countries under regimes have already discovered that the network is the only monetary tool left to survive when governments crackdown.
The discussion gave us a glimpse of how fiat money is used around the world in order to maintain evil governments in power playing with the lives of those who cannot reach resources.
Money is power. Money wins wars. Governments use fiat money to control, exploit, and sustain schemes where a few thrive in profits and a vast majority die starved; victims of forced labor, forgotten by the bigger headlines. Having the dollar as a national currency is a financial privilege, most people are not that fortunate.
A world without financial inclusion is an ongoing tragedy. “Without freedom, why do we even need money?” Yeonmi Park said opening the conversation. Reminding us that Bitcoin is not about wealth.
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Nabourema, Elsalameen, and Park carry the open wounds of societies that have been broken apart, knelt down, under the power of money. They are the voices of the victims of human trafficking, forced labor, and several heartbreaking injustices. Through resilience and their fight for human rights, they have found themselves in a Bitcoin conference.
As Gladstein and Park explained, 70% of people who flee North Korea are women. They cannot open bank accounts or access the monetary system, and most of them are in such a vulnerable state that end up being sold as sex slaves, which was the case of Park herself.
Many of these women are sent back to North Korea and kept in prison camps without any hopes of ever coming out. Just $50 would win them their freedom through a bribe, Park explained, but authorities are quick to search and seize any private property –which is not allowed in the country.
“There are 300,000 North Korean women right now in China and the children are about over one million of them, we don’t know quite fully how many are there,” Park said. These children are left stateless. Not recognized or legalized by either country, they cannot access education, IDs, much less a bank account in the long run.
Bitcoin has been the only way to send over money to the underground religious groups who work to give these children an education, hoping to prevent their trafficking.
For Farida Nabourema, on the other hand, her incredible fight traces back to generations of activists who have been imprisoned for opposing the corrupt and colonial money schemes that keep most Africans living in extreme poverty. Via colonialism and military regimes, the french government currently profits from Africa’s misery.
180M Africans own a currency that has no value outside of their native countries. Robbed, lied to, there is no monetary freedom for them. And for activists who otherwise would face prison, bitcoin has been the only tool to send money without putting their lives at risk.
Meanwhile in Palestine, “the biggest power is corruption,” Elsalameen explains, and adds that “it is the biggest enemy for prosperity and economic freedom.” Rather than an activist, he calls himself “a dreamer without illusion,” and thinks that when you are one “bitcoin is your solution” because it is “a tool for peace.”
“If every person can be their own bank, I much rather deal with just bitcoin,” said Elsalameen.
Park dreams of a world where North Koreans gain their own autonomy by understanding bitcoin. “In my life, nothing has been more evil than the government has been. The North Korean regime is a testament to how evil a government can be to individuals,” Park said.
Nabourema dreams of bitcoin as “the currency of decolonization,” because it could be the first currency to help her people obtain economic and political freedom. That’s why she’s deploying educational programs “that teach the power of Bitcoin so people can fight the regime anonymously.”
All over the world those who write the rules of money play with those rules as they please. No one can play with the rules of Bitcoin. The schemes created through fiat money are genocide. Bitcoin is about freedom.
Related Reading | Cryptocurrency Is All About Freedom
Bitcoinist @ Bitcoin 2022 Miami
Bitcoinist will be at Bitcoin 2022 Miami in Miami Beach, FL from April 6th through 10th reporting live from the show floor and related events. Check out exclusive coverage from the world’s largest BTC conference here.
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