Freedom of Expression Awards Fellowship

The Freedom of Expression Awards Fellowship celebrates individuals or groups who have had a significant impact fighting censorship anywhere in the world. Index works with the winners to provide longer-term assistance to help fellows maximise their impact and broaden their networks.

We award Fellowships in three categories


For artists and arts producers whose work challenges repression, injustice and celebrates artistic free expression.


For activists and campaigners who have had a marked impact in fighting censorship and promoting free expression on the ground.


For courageous and determined journalism that exposes censorship, threats to free expression and demands access to information.


Selected from hundreds of public nominations and a shortlist of 14, the 2020 Freedom of Expression Awards fellows exemplify courage in the face of censorship. Learn more about the fellowship.


Yulia Tsvetkova | Russia

Yulia Tsvetkova is a Russian artist and activist promoting women’s well-being and LGBTQ awareness.

Her work has brought about positive change in discussions towards body positivity and gender stereotypes, however this acclaim has made her a target.

In March 2019, her youth arts festival was cancelled after officials accused Tsvetkova of illegally trying to hold a gay pride event under the guise of a youth theatre festival.

Full profile | Acceptance video


Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei | Bahrain

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei is a Bahraini activist currently living in exile in the UK. He was forced to flee Bahrain in 2011 after being arrested for taking part in anti-government protests. The Bahraini government revoked his citizenship and launched a smear campaign labelling him a terrorist.

His family have also been subjected to numerous human rights violations by the Bahraini authorities, including arbitrary detention, unfair trial, ill-treatment and possible torture.

Full profile | Acceptance video


Veysel Ok | Turkey

Veysel Ok is a prominent Kurdish lawyer specialising in free speech and press freedom.

He provides pro-bono legal support to journalists, activists and academics who have been subjected to intimidation, surveillance, smear campaigns and harassment. His work has been instrumental in the release of several unlawfully detained journalists and writers.

Full profile | Acceptance video

Digital Activism

7amleh | Palestine

The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media, or 7amleh, is a non-profit organisation focused on protecting the human rights of Palestinians in the online space.

As Israel increases online monitoring, Palestinians are taking to social media to express disdain. 7amleh’s work protecting online safety and digital rights has been crucial.

Full profile | Acceptance video


OKO Press | Poland

OKO Press is the one of the first free investigative journalism and fact-checking websites in Poland.

They investigate and evaluate statements made by politicians, monitor public spending, and fight for access to public information. Their work also supports grassroots activism; crucial in an environment sliding further and further into authoritarianism and censorship.

Full profile | Acceptance video

About the Awards Fellowship

One Full Year

Fellows receive 12 months of direct assistance, starting with an all-expenses-paid training week in London.


Index helps fellows build key partnerships, troubleshoot and receive expert support in multiple areas including digital security, strategy and communications.


Fellows work with Index and partners to identify and realise key strategic goals.


Index promotes news and regional developments through our magazine, website and social media.


Fellows become part of a supportive community of free expression champions worldwide.



The Freedom of Expression Awards and Fellowship have a massive impact. You can help by sponsoring or supporting a fellowship.

If you are interested in sponsorship you can contact [email protected]