is a person who actively challenges an established political
or religious system
, or institution
In a religious context, the word has been used since the 18th century, and in the political sense since the 1920s, coinciding with the rise of totalitarian
governments in countries such as Fascist Italy
, Nazi Germany
, the Soviet Union
, Saudi Arabia
, and Iran
In the Western world
, there are historical examples of people who have been considered and have considered themselves dissidents, such as the Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza
. In totalitarian countries, dissidents are often incarcerated without explicit political accusations, or due to infringements of the very same laws they are opposing, or because they are supporting civil liberties
such as freedom of speech
The term dissident
was used in the Eastern bloc
, particularly in the Soviet Union
, in the period following Joseph Stalin
's death until the fall of communism
. It was attached to citizens who criticized the practices or the authority of a communist party
. Writers for the non-censored, non-conformist samizdat
literature were criticized in the official newspapers. Soon, many of those who were dissatisfied with Eastern bloc regimes began to self-identify as dissidents.
This radically changed the meaning of the term: instead of being used in reference to an individual who opposes society, it came to refer to an individual whose non-conformism was perceived to be for the good of a society.
In Hungary, the word disszidens
was used in contemporary language for a person who had left for the West
without permission (i.e. a defector), by illegally crossing the border or travelling abroad with a passport, but not returning and (sometimes) applying for asylum abroad. Such persons' citizenship was usually revoked, and their left behind property (if there was any to their name) would revert to the state.
Soviet dissidents were people who disagreed with certain features in the embodiment of Soviet ideology
and who were willing to speak out against them.
The term dissident
was used in the Soviet Union
in the period following Joseph Stalin
's death until the fall of communism
It was used to refer to small groups of marginalized
intellectuals whose modest challenges to the Soviet regime
met protection and encouragement from correspondents.
Following the etymology of the term, a dissident is considered to "sit apart" from the regime.
As dissenters began self-identifying as dissidents
, the term came to refer to an individual whose non-conformism was perceived to be for the good of a society.
Political opposition in the USSR was barely visible and, with rare exceptions, of little consequence.
Instead, an important element of dissident activity in the Soviet Union was informing society (both inside the Soviet Union and in foreign countries) about violation of laws and human rights. Over time, the dissident movement created vivid awareness of Soviet Communist abuses.
Soviet dissidents who criticized the state faced possible legal sanctions under the Soviet Criminal Code
and faced the choice of exile
, the mental hospital
, or penal servitude
political behavior, in particular, being outspoken in opposition to the authorities, demonstrating for reform, or even writing books was defined as being simultaneously a criminal act (e.g., violation of Articles 70 or 190-1), a symptom (e.g., "delusion of reformism"), and a diagnosis (e.g., "sluggish schizophrenia
Dissidents and activists were among the earliest adopters of encrypted
communications technology such as Tor
and the dark web
, turning to the technology as ways to resist totalitarian regimes, avoid censorship and control and protect privacy.
Tor was widely used by protestors against the Mubarak regime
in Egypt in 2011. Tor allowed Egyptian dissidents to communicate anonymously and securely, while sharing sensitive information. Also, Syrian rebels
widely used Tor in order to share with the world all of the horrors that they witnessed in their country.
Moreover, anti-government dissidents in Lebanon, Mauritania, as well as other nations affected by the Arab Spring
, widely used Tor in order to stay safe while exchanging their ideas and agendas.
Saudi Arabian dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi
(left) at a 2018 Project on Middle East Democracy forum in Washington, D.C.
Various other human rights activists from Saudi Arabia have been either silenced or punished. This also happens if the individual lives outside the country. If a dissident is not a Saudi citizen, they will probably face deportation
The Fact Finding Panel (FFP), an independent jury of British parliamentary members and international attorneys, was tasked with reviewing the detention of former Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Nayef
and Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz
. In mid-December 2020, the panel published a report stating its findings, which claimed that the collective detention of political prisoners
by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a violation of the country's international legal obligations, as the authorities are holding the detainees without charge and not allowing them a chance to challenge their imprisonment. The imprisonment has also risked the safety of the detainees by posing fatal risks to their health by keeping them behind bars without providing proper medical aid amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic
Another monarchy of the Middle East
, is known for violating the rights of peaceful critics of the government, including political activists and human rights defenders
. A report released by Amnesty International
in 2017 revealed that the country opted for several repressive tactics, including arbitrary detention, torture and harassment between June 2016 and June 2017 to crush the dissidents. Several human rights
organizations and international leaders have consistently denounced Bahrain's poor human rights records. 
The Human Rights Watch World Report 2021
also highlighted that Bahrain continued its repressive actions against the dissidents, including acts against online activities, peaceful critics and opposition activists.
In January 2021, forty cross-party MPs
of the UK
wrote a letter to the vice-chancellor of an educational institution, the University of Huddersfield
, stating that it was at risk of “indirect implication in human rights abuse”. The university was running a master’s course, MSc in security science, for the officers of Bahrain’s Royal Academy of Policing, the building which was also being used for torturing dissidents.
- ^ "Definition of "Dissident"". Merriam-Webster.
- ^ "the definition of dissident". www.dictionary.com.
- ^ a b Chronicle of Current Events (samizdat) (in Russian)
- ^ a b Universal Declaration of Human RightsArchived December 8, 2014, at the Wayback Machine General Assembly resolution 217 A (III), United Nations, 10 December 1948
- ^ a b Proclamation of Tehran, Final Act of the International Conference on Human Rights, Teheran, 22 April to 13 May 1968, U.N. Doc. A/CONF. 32/41 at 3 (1968), United Nations, May 1968
- ^ a b CONFERENCE ON SECURITY AND CO-OPERATION IN EUROPE FINAL ACT. Helsinki, 1 aug. 1975 Archived 2011-05-31 at the Wayback Machine
- ^ Carlisle, Rodney; Golson, Geoffrey (2008). The Reagan era from the Iran crisis to Kosovo. ABC-CLIO. p. 88. ISBN 978-1851098859.
- ^ Smith, Stephen (2014). The Oxford handbook of the history of communism. OUP Oxford. p. 379. ISBN 978-0199602056.
- ^ Taras, Raymond, ed. (2015) . The road to disillusion: from critical marxism to post-communism in Eastern Europe (2 ed.). Routledge. p. 62. ISBN 978-1317454793.
- ^ Barber, John (October 1997). "Opposition in Russia". Government and Opposition. 32 (4): 598–613. doi:10.1111/j.1477-7053.1997.tb00448.x.
- ^ Rosenthal, Abe (2 June 1989). "Soviet dissenters used to die for speaking out". The Dispatch. p. 5.
- ^ Stone, Alan (1985). Law, psychiatry, and morality: essays and analysis. American Psychiatric Pub. pp. 5. ISBN 978-0880482097.
- ^ Singer, Daniel (2 January 1998). "Socialism and the Soviet Bloc". The Nation.
- ^ "Report of the U.S. Delegation to Assess Recent Changes in Soviet Psychiatry". Schizophrenia Bulletin. 15 (4 Suppl): 1–219. 1989. doi:10.1093/schbul/15.suppl_1.1. PMID 2638045.
- ^ "Who are the dissidents?". BBC News. 2009-03-10. Retrieved 2009-10-13.
- ^ Bartlett, Jamie (June 2015), How the mysterious dark net is going mainstream, TEDGlobalLondon
- ^ Hern, Alex (23 August 2017). "The dilemma of the dark web: protecting neo-Nazis and dissidents alike". The Guardian.
- ^ David Kushner (October 22, 2015). "The Darknet: Is the Government Destroying 'the Wild West of the Internet?'". Rolling Stone.
- ^ "Cryptopolitik and the Darknet". Survival. 58 (1, p7–38. 32p).
- ^ Croke, Paul (15 July 2015). "Dark Net: Secret basement of the Internet". Baltimore Post-Examiner. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
- ^ "CIA concludes Saudi crown prince ordered Jamal Khashoggi's assassination". pbs.org. November 17, 2018.
- ^ "Face Finding Report into the Detention of Saudi Arabia Royals: Former Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Nayef and Prince Ahmed bin Abdul-Aziz" (PDF). Bindmans. Retrieved 17 December 2020.
- ^ "Bahrain: A year of brutal government repression to crush dissent". Amnesty International. Retrieved 7 September 2017.
- ^ "'No one can protect you': Bahrain's year of crushing dissent" (PDF). Amnesty International. Retrieved 7 September 2017.
- ^ "Bahrain: No Improvement in Rights Record". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 13 January 2021.
- ^ "Huddersfield University's Bahrain degree 'providing torture hub with legitimacy'". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
- ^ "Resolution on Bahrain, in particular the cases of Nabeel Rajab, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja and Ibrahim Sharif". European Parliament. Retrieved 26 April 2021.
- ^ Sherrill, Clifton (2011). "After Khamenei: Who Will Succeed Iran's Supreme Leader?". Orbis. 55 (4): 631–47. doi:10.1016/j.orbis.2011.07.002.
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Last edited on 10 May 2021, at 00:54
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