Edward Snowden to give exclusive talk at Roskilde Festival

Photo credit: Christian Hjorth

DENMARK: The American whistleblower and political activist Edward Snowden will be one of the speakers as Roskilde Festival, and will be paying special attention to equality and human rights in tandem with the festival’s theme for 2016.

Every year, Roskilde Festival focuses on an issue that deserves special attention. In 2016 this will be equality and human rights. This year’s festival consequently offers much more than music, with themes like digital surveillance, the right to privacy, freedom of speech, equality between the sexes, and refugees to be debated and discussed.

As an intelligence agent, Edward Snowden caused much controversy when he leaked the many documents that revealed the extent of the surveillance of citizens, politicians and states conducted by the Central Intelligence Agency in America. Crucially, this started and stirred a debate as surveillance and freedom of speech became – yet again – important topics on a global scale.

On June 28, Roskilde’s attendees will be able to view Snowden live via satellite connection from his exile in Moscow, projected onto screens at the event.

Roskilde Festival’s spokeswoman Christina Bilde said: “More than anyone else, Edward Snowden has made us aware just how much human rights are challenged. This goes for a small country like Denmark as well where surveillance both in public and on social media challenges the right to privacy; where refugees make us question the right to free mobility; where the right to freedom of speech is debated heavily. His thoughts and experiences will undoubtedly inspire reflection amongst anyone who cares to listen at the festival.”

Roskilde Festival is working with several non-profit partners and artists who support the work for equality in very different ways. The opening of the iconic Orange Stage by The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians with Damon Albarn is one such manifestation. Specially built VIP lounges for bottle collectors by artist group Superflex is another.

As serious as this theme may be, the festival promises to incorporate it in a fun way – with workshops, games and debates, a flirtation course, a political refugee fashion show, the creation of Denmark’s longest youth poem, and a comeback battle where festivalgoers can learn how to respond to sexist remarks.

Bilde continued: “We’re paying special attention to our understanding of equality because we – as an organisation – believe that equality among people and countries is essential for a democratic order. When we say ‘Stand Up for Your Rights’ and encourage our guests to take a stand and be engaged, it’s also an acknowledgement that the change we create together has the biggest impact. And with more than 100,000 people at this year’s festival, we have a community with the strength to fight for the changes that can promote equality in this world.”

The theme ‘Equality 2016: Stand Up for Your Rights’ is the first phase of a three-year focus aiming at a better understanding of equality.