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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

No Stamp Required: All Too Easy for #Bahrain Twitter Trolls

(0) Comments | Posted September 25, 2015 | 9:42 AM

In what might be shocking news to younger readers, trolling predates the internet. When in 1987 the UK magazine The Spectator ran an article featuring a description of anti-apartheid activist Marion Sparg as "grossly fat and unattractive," I wrote a letter of complaint to the editor, which was...

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United Arab Emirates: Lift Travel Ban on Political Dissidents

(0) Comments | Posted September 15, 2015 | 3:37 PM

It's hard to describe how scared people in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are of the secret police. The State Security apparatus, as it's spookily known, is the UAE's Stasi. Human rights activists and others I met secretly in the UAE a few months ago told me that many of...

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Americans Jailed in UAE for a Year Without Charge

(6) Comments | Posted August 19, 2015 | 7:43 PM

Next week will mark a year since U.S. ally United Arab Emirates (UAE) arrested two U.S. citizens - Kamal Ahmed al Darat, age 58, and his son, Mohammed Kamal al Darat, who is 33. Neither have been charged or tried, and both have been swallowed into the UAE's feared State...

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A Generation of Fighting for Human Rights

(0) Comments | Posted August 10, 2015 | 3:50 PM

We've all done things we're not proud of. At discos in the early '80s I'd dance a solo routine to Dexy's "Come on Eileen" - all rockstar pout and ginger quiff, an inspired fusion of Riverdance and air drumming.

The memories of those days are partly redeemed...

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2022 Becomes a Crucial Test of Human Rights and Sport

(3) Comments | Posted July 31, 2015 | 8:41 PM

With Qatar hosting the 2022 World Cup, and now Beijing the Winter Olympics, 2022 is shaping up to be a defining test of international sport's commitment to human rights.

La Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) are under increasing global scrutiny...

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In Cairo, Kerry Should Reinforce Obama's Remarks in Kenya

(0) Comments | Posted July 30, 2015 | 3:54 PM

President Obama hit many right notes during his trip to Kenya last week -- he spoke about the need for civil society inclusion in countering terrorism, about the United States's own mistakes in not treating people equally under the law, and about how government's security forces can fuel the terrorism...

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Violence Escalates in Unstable Bahrain

(0) Comments | Posted July 28, 2015 | 11:01 AM

Today's news that two more policemen have been killed in Bahrain, and others injured, is awful and alarming, but ultimately unsurprising. In recent months the Bahraini government has shut off peaceful avenues of dissent for Bahrainis to express their frustration at the country's lack of democracy and its...

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Obama Shouldn't Take Kenyan Welcome for Granted

(4) Comments | Posted July 24, 2015 | 11:50 AM

President Obama's arrival in Kenya will trigger a rapturous welcome from an enthusiastic public, proud that one of their own is returning as President of the United States and eager to identify with his success and to hear his advice for their country.

Well, maybe.

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During Trip, Obama Should Raise Case of Kenyan Detained at Guantanamo

(1) Comments | Posted July 23, 2015 | 3:03 PM

President Obama has a long list of security-related issues to raise with the Kenyan government during his trip this weekend, including corruption, the rise of violent extremism, and the Kenyan authorities' failure to adopt an inclusive approach to countering terrorism.

Human rights activists in the country told...

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Bahrain's In Out In Out Hokey Pokey Dance

(0) Comments | Posted July 14, 2015 | 12:11 AM

The Bahraini authorities have started to play a bizarrely macabre version of the Hokey Pokey (itself a peculiar song and dance dating back to the early 1800s and known in the UK as the Okey Cokey). In the Bahraini version a political dissident is freed from jail as another is...

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Kenyan Corruption Undermines Fight Against Extremism

(0) Comments | Posted July 6, 2015 | 1:23 PM

NAIROBI -- Parts of Kenya's capital are having a dramatic makeover in the weeks before President Obama's arrival at the end of the month. The pope is also due to travel here in November, and workers are sprucing up the route from the airport to the central district by laying...

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Kenyan Government Struggles to Fight Mombasa Terrorism

(0) Comments | Posted June 26, 2015 | 2:51 PM

This week the Kenyan government is hosting a summit on countering violent extremism in Nairobi, a regional conference that follows up on a February White House Summit. In a coastal city of Mombasa, people have experienced violent extremism firsthand with a series of attacks on churches.

The attacks of the...

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No Hollywood Ending for Bahraini Opposition Leaders

(0) Comments | Posted June 22, 2015 | 4:47 PM

Yul Brynner's 1962 role as a political leader on the run from a middle eastern dictator wasn't his finest. The film -- Escape from Zahrain -- is pretty awful. The New York Times review skewered the plot as a "nonsensical tale of an Arab rebel chief... [which] never rises above...

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A Bad Year for Yara Sallam in Egypt's Republic of Fear

(0) Comments | Posted June 17, 2015 | 11:11 AM

Sunday June 21 will mark one year since Egyptian human rights defender Yara Sallam and 22 others were arrested in the Cairo district of Heliopolis. She's been in jail since then, along with six other women who were arrested at the same time in connection with a peaceful protest. Sanaa...

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Bahrain Medic Recounts Conditions in Jaw Prison

(0) Comments | Posted June 10, 2015 | 10:12 AM

Finally, after serving his three year sentence in a Bahrain prison, 47-year-old nurse Ebrahim Demastani has been released. Demastani is one of the dozens of Bahraini medics who were arrested and tortured in 2011 after they treated injured protestors during the country's pro-democracy demonstrations in February and March...

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Fighting Bahrain's Sectarian Threat

(0) Comments | Posted June 3, 2015 | 11:08 AM

Rocked by last week's bombings of Shia mosques in Saudi Arabia which killed dozens of people, Bahrain's government has responded with a series of statements against incitement and sectarianism. Interior Minister Lieutenant-General Shaikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa called for tolerance, saying "It is a duty to protect worshipping places...

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Change is Coming, Slowly and Suddenly

(0) Comments | Posted May 28, 2015 | 9:52 AM

A few years ago it seemed almost unimaginable. Ireland's overwhelming support of legalizing same-sex marriage is a reminder of how fast political change can happen, and how apparent certainties can crumble at lightning speed.

In 1983, the Chief Justice of Ireland declared that homosexuality was:

Of course, morally wrong,...
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How To Sound Like a Washington Expert on Bahrain

(0) Comments | Posted May 6, 2015 | 9:28 AM

Next week is the big meeting between the Gulf monarchs and President Obama in Washington. Kings and princes and emirs from the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) - Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) - will get the full red carpet treatment at the White...

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Trouble in Paradise: How U.S. Ally UAE Crushes Dissent

(6) Comments | Posted April 28, 2015 | 9:38 AM

Abu Dhabi -- Backed by an impressively lavish lobbying and PR machine -- more expensive than any other middle eastern country -- the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is eager to show that it's a safe and stable business environment, and a dependable U.S. military ally. "United in Security"...

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Bahrain's Prison Crisis Deepens

(1) Comments | Posted April 10, 2015 | 5:02 PM

In December 2013 Human Rights First predicted trouble in Bahrain's prisons. "Overcrowding is a recipe for destabilization that could spread beyond the prison's walls," we said. Sure enough, four months later, there was a riot in Bahrain's main prison, Jaw.

The authorities reported, "A team of...

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