The Oak Institute for the Study of International Human Rights, established in 1998, annually brings to campus a prominent human rights defender. While in residence the Oak Human Rights Fellow teaches, pursues research and activism, and works with faculty and students to organize lectures and other events related to his or her area of expertise.
The 2016 Oak Fellow is Khalid Albaih, a Sudanese artist residing in Doha, Qatar. Albaih uses his daring, often biting cartoons to champion important causes like freedom of expression and democracy in the Arab world, while also criticizing Islamophobia in the West and the use of torture and predator drone attacks by the United States. He became associated with the Arab Spring in 2011, when his images were turned into stencils and reproduced on city walls in Cairo, Egypt, and Sana’a, Yemen—cities that were buzzing with calls for greater citizen rights. He soon acquired thousands of followers on his Facebook site (“Khartoon!”—a play on his artistic medium and his former home in the capital of Sudan). Offline, Albaih’s work also has appeared in exhibitions in Vienna, London, Montreal, Detroit, Bahrain, and The Hague, and has been featured prominently in numerous media outlets, including the New York Times and Al Jazeera.