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Brian Dooley
As director of the Human Rights Defenders program, Brian leads Human Rights First’s efforts to ensure that human rights defenders can work free from harm and interference, engaging with the U.S. government and with other partners to end threats and obstacles to human rights work.

For the 20 years prior to joining Human Rights First, Brian worked for U.S., Irish and international NGOs. Most recently, Brian led Amnesty International’s work on partnering with national NGOs in the global South. Brian has also worked as Head of Media for Amnesty International in London and in Dublin, and as Director of Communications for Public Citizen in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books about civil rights and U.S. politics, and had early experience on the Hill, interning for Senator Edward Kennedy in the mid-80s as a legislative researcher, contributing to what ultimately became the 1986 Anti-Apartheid Act. Before that, he lived and worked as an English teacher and community organizer in a black township in South Africa in 1981-82, which was prohibited under apartheid’s racial segregation laws.

Brian has an MPhil in Government and Politics from The Open University in London, and a B.A. with honors in Political Science from the University of East Anglia.

Entries by Brian Dooley

A Day in the Life of Maryam Al Khawaja

(0) Comments | Posted September 2, 2014 | 7:53 PM

A day spent working with Bahraini human rights activist Maryam Al Khawaja is likely to be kinetic. I've had the privilege of trying to keep up with her in Washington, New York, Geneva and elsewhere as she championed the cause of democracy and human rights in Bahrain. She's passionate, energetic...

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Abdulhadi Al Khawaja Embarks on Hunger Strike

(0) Comments | Posted August 28, 2014 | 5:43 PM

It's a political prisoner's last card. Going on a hunger strike is a highly dangerous move, especially for people in fragile health.

Abdulhadi Al Khawaja - perhaps Bahrain's most prominent human rights defender - began a hunger strike in Bahrain's Jaw prison earlier this week. He is taking...

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The Exceptional Egyptian Human Rights Defender Yara Sallam

(1) Comments | Posted August 14, 2014 | 9:17 PM

Human rights defenders aren't always easy company. It's their job to be stubborn and sure of themselves, so they're often intense, sometimes abrasive.

Yara Sallam is an exception. She's funny, engaging, and easygoing. And she's in jail in Cairo. She's been there since June 21, arrested on baseless charges...

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U.S. Highlights Bahrain Sectarianism in New Religious Freedom Report

(0) Comments | Posted July 28, 2014 | 2:25 PM

Today's State Department report on international religious freedom for 2013 is unlikely to heal the increasing rift between the U.S. Government and Bahrain.

In recent weeks tension has increased as the Bahrain regime expelled State Department Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Tom Malinowski...

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Bahrain Regime Targets Opposition -- and the United States

(0) Comments | Posted July 24, 2014 | 11:42 AM

After nearly three years in the job, the much-vilified U.S. Ambassador to Bahrain, Thomas Krajeski, will be replaced - if the U.S. Senate agrees to his confirmation - by William Roebuck, a middle east specialist at the State Department. After stints in embassies in Libya, Iraq, Syria and...

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Washington's Bahrain Problem Gets Worse

(1) Comments | Posted July 10, 2014 | 11:36 AM

This week the Bahrain ruling family has revealed itself as an increasingly embarrassing, erratic ally for the United States. Monday's decision to kick out State Department Assistant Secretary Tom Malinowski was shocking if not entirely surprising.

Malinowski's sin was, apparently, to talk to Bahrain's main opposition party Al Wifaq without...

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Where's the Ukrainian Far Right Now?

(4) Comments | Posted July 7, 2014 | 3:35 PM

After strong showings at the polls a few years ago, Ukraine's far right has sunk to virtual electoral oblivion, and it's hard to know where or if it will reappear. Its role in defending protestors against the Yanukovych government, overthrown in February this year, didn't translate into widespread support in...

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It's Time Kyiv Got It Right

(0) Comments | Posted July 5, 2014 | 5:08 PM


Of course, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said it best. "Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was 'well timed' in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation," he said. "For...

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Remnants of Revolution in Kyiv

(0) Comments | Posted June 27, 2014 | 4:17 PM

Today the new president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, signed the European Union cooperation agreement that late last year sparked the protests that ended the pro-Russian government of President Yanukovych.

Today Maidan, the center of those protests in Kyiv, is still filled with men and women in paramilitary uniform. In the...

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LGBT Activist Refused Membership of New Ukrainian Party

(2) Comments | Posted June 5, 2014 | 4:50 PM

As Vice President Joe Biden heads to Ukraine this weekend for the inauguration of new Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, he might want to pay closer attention to the new era of politics in the country. In an apparent sweeping endorsement of those who prefer Ukraine to tilt westward toward the...

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From Manama With Love

(1) Comments | Posted May 9, 2014 | 4:12 PM

Just when the Obama administration is straining to isolate the Kremlin with a new round of sanctions as punishment for the annexation of Ukraine, a major U.S. ally trotted off to Moscow last week to strike a series of military and economic deals with the Russian government.

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100 Days Later

(0) Comments | Posted April 25, 2014 | 10:06 AM

You can do a lot in 100 days. It took fewer than 100 business days to draft the U.S. Constitution and President Roosevelt famously pushed 15 major pieces of legislation through the opening 100 days of his first Congress. Dostoyevsky wrote the classic novel The Gambler in just 26; the...

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Bahrain Allies' Dangerous Myopia

(0) Comments | Posted April 14, 2014 | 10:20 AM

This week, Britain released its Human Rights and Democracy Report 2013 detailing the country's assessment of the progression of human rights in Bahrain. The verdict comes just six weeks after the U.S. State Department's issued its yearly assessment.

While there are differences in...

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Embassygate in Bahrain Not the Fundamental Problem

(0) Comments | Posted March 31, 2014 | 2:47 PM

The U.S. State Department Inspector General's office has sunk the knife pretty deeply into U.S. Ambassador to Bahrain Thomas Krajeski. A report released last week alleged that his "failure to maintain a robust planning and review process has led to confusion and lack of focus among some staff...

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Bahrain's Sunningdale

(0) Comments | Posted March 28, 2014 | 1:10 PM

A new initiative aimed at breaking Bahrain's political impasse, a round of dialogue sponsored by the Crown Prince, is due to start soon. Parallels between present-day Bahrain and the Northern Ireland of a generation ago are not new but there's an obvious lesson from what happened there 40...

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Three Years Later, Reform in Bahrain Is Nowhere to be Seen

(0) Comments | Posted March 25, 2014 | 12:18 PM

It's three years ago this month that troops from Saudi Arabia entered the island kingdom of Bahrain to help the government there crack down on protests for reform. The violent attack on protesters and the subsequent deaths and arrests by Bahraini security forces pose a test for U.S. human rights...

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Irish America's Identity Parades

(0) Comments | Posted March 4, 2014 | 12:24 PM

When Irish civil rights activists proposed marching in the Philadelphia St. Patrick's Day parade in 1969, they were given permission to carry their banner on the condition that it clearly stated they were supporting civil rights in Ireland and not black civil rights in the United States.

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Bahrain's Soldier Sailor Sunni Shia Struggle

(0) Comments | Posted February 7, 2014 | 10:14 AM

Three years after the large-scale protests began in Bahrain, the Sunni-led government is still presiding over security forces that are overwhelmingly Sunni. While the protests were not and are not primarily sectarian, with Sunnis and Shias both demonstrating for democracy and human rights, Sunni control of the government and disproportionate...

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American Recounts Arrest in Egypt

(0) Comments | Posted February 4, 2014 | 4:15 PM

Jeremy Hodge, a 25-year old-American from Los Angeles was, until a few weeks ago, working as a translator in Cairo. Everything changed on the evening of January 22, when Hodge and his roommates, Nizar Manek, a British journalist, and Hossam el Meneai, an Egyptian documentary filmmaker, were questioned by Egyptian...

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Bahrain Urgently Needs Real Negotiations

(1) Comments | Posted January 28, 2014 | 4:34 PM

For analysts trying to read the tea leaves between the latest twists in Bahrain politics, the signs are confusing. Formal talks broke down earlier this month after the government arrested and charged Ali Salman and Khaji Marzooq -- senior leaders of Al Wefaq, the main opposition group at the table...

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