Famous North Korean defector and activist Yeonmi Park has petitioned U.S. congress to remain open-minded when legislating Bitcoin and stablecoins. Together with another 19 human rights activists from around the world, she argues why such tools can help bring financial freedom to those who need it most.
A Tool for Financial Freedom
In the letter submitted on Tuesday, the activists claimed that they, alongside tens of millions of others living under authoritarian regimes, have relied on Bitcoin and stablecoins in their “struggle for freedom and democracy.”
“Bitcoin provides financial inclusion and empowerment because it is open and permissionless,” the group explained. Together with stablecoins, the group argues that both technologies provide economic freedom for nations with collapsing or siloed currencies – Nigeria, Turkey, and Argentina among them.
Stablecoins are cryptocurrencies that are value pegged to traditionally stable fiat currencies, such as the U.S. dollar. Bitcoin – while much more volatile by comparison – has a fixed supply, making it a long-term inflation hedge in the eyes of many holders.
Given their usefulness, the activists call for an “open-minded” and “empathetic” approach toward these monetary tools.
“We are not industry financiers or professional lobbyists but humanitarians and democracy advocates who have used Bitcoin to assist people at risk when other options have failed,” the group claims.
Responding to the Critics
The letter is partly a reaction to the newly founded “global community of technologists,” which called on Congress last week to beware of lobbying efforts from the crypto industry. It argued that the use-cases of crypto are few or non-existent and that digital assets are merely tools for crime, pollution, and speculative investment schemes.
The activists countered by noting that nearly all of the anti-crypto letter’s authors came from countries with stable currencies and strong property rights. Such people, they claim, are likely naive about issues like monetary colonialism, frozen bank accounts, exploitative remittance companies, and other financial woes.
“To most of us and our communities — and to the majority of people worldwide — they are daily realities,” reads the letter.
The activists also rejected the technologists’ claim that other existing financial tools already solve problems related to financial inclusion. “If there were “far better solutions already in use” to overcome these challenges, we would know,” they said.
Though the activists conceded that the crypto industry is indeed “rife with scams”, they urged Congress to research the various ways these technologies benefit millions of people.
Yeonmi Park’s Praise for Bitcoin
Yeonmi Park’s name appeared alongside other well-known Bitcoiners on the letter, including Human Rights Foundation CSO Alex Gladstein and Mexican Senator Indria Kempis.
Park appeared at the Bitcoin 2022 conference in Miami this April, and discussed how Bitcoin is currently helping save many East Asian children. She explained that numerous mixed-race Chinese and Korean children of sex slaves have been left orphaned and “stateless” with no access to Chinese money. Therefore, the only monetary tool they have available is Bitcoin.
At the same conference, UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou spoke about how Bitcoin can become the “future of finance” in Africa. Over a dozen African countries are currently using the CFA franc – a remnant of French colonial currency with heavily restricted access to global trade. Using Bitcoin, Africans can gain access to the digital financial world, 70% of whom have no bank accounts.
One such nation under the CFA declared Bitcoin legal tender only weeks after the conference. It is now planning to build a state-sponsored, lightning-compatible Bitcoin wallet, similar to the Chivo wallet in El Salvador.
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