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.
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.
Malala was 11 years old when she began blogging 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 proceeded to return to resume her work for women’s education as a solution in Pakistan and beyond, becoming the youngest Nobel Prize laureate ever.
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.