In a functioning democracy, political dissidents are exercising a regular and completely legal part of freedom of speech. This page focuses on the dissidents who risk their lives battling the most undemocratic dictatorships in the world.
dissidents and democracy people
Ai Weiwei is a contemporary political artist active in sculpture, installation, architecture, music, photography, film, and political critic frequently seen clashing with the dictatorship. Born in Beijing, he is openly critical of the dictatorship’s dangerous stance on democracy and he has worked on many popular investigations into government corruption despite his constant repression.
Investigations of corruption on his blog, vocal criticism of the dictatorship, and unconventional grassroots organizing activities have made Navalny a national figure in Russia. He organized large-scale demonstrations promoting democracy against dictator Vladimir Putin and Putin’s political allies. He has also run for office on an anti-corruption platform including Moscow Mayor.
Suu Kyi is an opposition politician in Burma. After winning the 1990 elections she was placed under house arrest for the next 21 years until emerging to become figurehead for democracy reform in transforming Burma. Suu Kyi announced on the World Economic Forum that she wants to run for the presidency of Burma if she can manage the existing regime’s barriers.
Civil rights activist worked on human rights in rural areas of China. Blind from an early age and self-taught in the law, he is frequently described as a ‘barefoot lawyer’. He advocates for women’s rights, land rights, and welfare of the poor. He is popularly known for exposing government abuses in official family-planning practices, often involving violence and forced abortions.
Ukrainian exhibitionist feminist protesters with branches in Tunisia and the Middle East. Internationally known for organizing controversially topless protests against sex tourism, religious institutions, sexism and other topics related to women. Battles “patriarchy in sexual exploitation of women, dictatorship and religion”.
Malala was 11 years old when she began blogging anonymously about life under Taliban rule in northwestern Pakistan and launched her campaign to support education for the poor. At 15, she survived a brutal assassination attempt and has recently returned from surgery to resume her work for women’s education as a solution in Pakistan and beyond.
Russian feminist punk rock protest group based in Moscow advocating feminism, LGBT rights, and opposition to Vladimir Putin. Several of the all female rock band have been imprisoned in the notorious Russian gulag system as punishment for peaceful protest including some of those who were beaten by police outside the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Sein is a former military commander who has been President of Myanmar since March 2011. His new government has completed a series of political reforms including deregulation of the country’s censored media and releasing many political prisoners that has transformed the country once among world’s worst human rights offenders.
Dictatorships use many discriminatory policies to repress their population and dissidents face the worst of their fury. Political repression such as human rights violations, surveillance abuse, police brutality, imprisonment, involuntary settlement, stripping of citizen’s rights, and violent action or terror such as murder, summary executions, torture, forced disappearance and other extrajudicial punishment. Also visit our articles on international corruption.
Political Dissidents and Their Movements
When dissidents unite for a common cause they often become a dissident movement. All modern dictatorships are opposed by established dissident movements that exist both inside and outside their borders. Many dissident movements find shelter and support for their activities inside the democratic world. Also, take a look at our articles on what we call Technology Dissidents including web-minded individuals like Lawrence Lessig, Eric Snowden, Julian Assange, and Bradley Manning.
The non-profit Freedom House does a good deal of work assisting these types of dissidents but other charities involved in this fight include Amnesty International and the Worldwide Movement for Democracy. Movements.org is perhaps the major activist group focused solely on helping dissidents. A list of the worst of the worst dictatorships is produced every year by the democracy and civil rights group Freedom House. Take a look at “Worst of the Worst 2012: The World’s Most Repressive Societies“. Here is a quick summary:
More than 1.6 billion people—23 percent of the world’s population—have no say in how they are governed and face severe consequences if they try to exercise their most basic rights, such as expressing their views, assembling peacefully, and organizing independently of the state. Citizens who dare to assert their rights in these repressive countries typically suffer harassment and imprisonment, and often are subjected to physical or psychological abuse. In these countries, state control over public life is pervasive, and individuals have little if any recourse to justice for crimes the state commits against them.
With China being the largest dictatorship in the world with massive political power, this page has a good amount of material on China’s vast community of activists pushing for democracy.
Chinese contemporary artist, active in sculpture, installation, architecture, curating, photography, film, and social, political and cultural criticist. Ai collaborated with Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron as the artistic consultant on the Beijing National Stadium for the 2008 Olympics. As a political activist, he has been highly and openly critical of the Chinese Government’s stance on democracy and human rights. He has investigated government corruption and cover-ups, in particular the Sichuan schools corruption scandal following the collapse of so-called “tofu-dreg schools” in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. In 2011, following his arrest at Beijing Capital International Airport on April 3, he was held for 81 days without any official charges being filed; officials alluded to their allegations of “economic crimes” (tax evasion).
Chinese civil rights activist who worked on human rights issues in rural areas of the People’s Republic of China. Blind from an early age and self-taught in the law, Chen is frequently described as a “barefoot lawyer” who advocates for women’s rights, land rights, and the welfare of the poor. He is best known for exposing abuses in official family-planning practices, often involving claims of violence and forced abortions. In April 2012, Chen dramatically escaped from house arrest in his village in northeast China by jumping over a wall at night and making his way via an underground network of relatives, friends, and supporters to the US embassy in Beijing, hundreds of miles away. On 19 May 2012, Chen, his wife, and his two children were granted U.S. visas and departed Beijing for New York City.
Despite repeated warnings from the Chinese government, the Nobel Committee named jailed Chinese dissident writer Liu Xiaobo the winner of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, citing “his long and nonviolent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.” Liu Xiaobo took part in the student protests on Tiananmen Square in 1989. For that he was sentenced to two years in prison. Liu has been in prison since December 2008, when he was sentenced to 11 years for criticizing China’s communist government in a widely circulated petition dubbed Charter 08. Liu’s wife accepted the committee’s praise on his behalf, and, from house arrest in Beijing, invited Chinese dissidents and writers to attend the ceremony in her husband’s place.