Advice for dissidents

January 2, 2011

Some news reports in the last days reminded me, that anybody who challenges the authorities or exposes corruption and injustice has to be very careful. The ruling classes will use all available means to silent dissent and if the easiest option is to kill, they will kill.

The terrifying photograph of a dead man crushed by the tire of a heavy truck ignited an internet outcry in China. Qian Yunhui is thought to have been killed to silence his six-year campaign to protect fellow villagers in a land dispute.


Ten days before, the investigative journalist Sun Hongjie was attacked by a gang of men in disputed circumstances. He died from his injuries in what police say was a personal dispute. Mr Sun’s colleagues say he was investigating forced demolitions, a subject likely to have led him into conflict with officials.


Other dissidents were more fortunate. Nobel Peace Price winner Liu Xiaobao is serving a 11-year prison term on subversion charges, but at least he is alive. Xia Yeliang, an economist who like Liu Xiaobao worked on the “Charter 08” reform manifesto, is sidelined but still free.

Being a human rights investigator, human rights lawyer, or investigative journalist in Russia is undoubtedly life threatening (Natalya Estemirova, Anna Politkovskaya, Olga Kotovskaya, Malika Betiyeva, Nadezhda Chaikova, Maxim Zuyev, Anastasia Baburova, Konstantin Popov, only to name a few).


Being famous sometimes helps: The renowned Indian physician and human rights activist Dr. Binayak Sen is not death, he has only been sentenced to life in prison on charges of sedition and conspiracy.


Arundhati Roy is still free. A judicial magistrate’s court will be hearing a case against her on January 20th for saying Kashmir is not an integral part of India.

Bradley manning languishes in a cell at U.S. Marine Base Quantico in harsh conditions.


I could easily continue this list and the names would fill a book. But I only wanted to demonstrate with a few examples that dissidents have to be careful. The women and man who died in the pursuit of freedom and justice will be in our heart and remembered and admired but maybe they could have achieved even more if they would have lived and continued their mission.

So what shall we do, just keep our heads down and clench our teeth? My suggestions are:

Cut your credit card into pieces. Avoid bank services and any other financial services as far as it is possible. Do you need your cell phone? (it could be useful for organizing, maybe you share it?). Never look or listen to any advertising anymore. Drop out. Stop consuming. Leave the party. Don’t give them a chance to brainwash you — don’t waste time with corporate media. Take part in small networks to make the big systems irrelevant. Further reading:

Claire Wolfe: 101 Things To Do ‘Til The Revolution
Raj Patel: The Value of Nothing
Crawshaw/Jackson: Small Acts of Resistance: How Courage, Tenacity, and a Bit of Ingenuity Can Change the World

A booklist that I found in “The Guardian”:

The No Nonsense Guide to Globalization by Wayne Ellwood
Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser
Against the Third Way by Alex Callinicos
No Logo by Naomi Klein
The No Nonsense Guide to Fair Trade by David Ransom
Captive State by George Monbiot
Rogue States by Noam Chomsky
Chomsky and Globalisation by Jeremy Fox
The World is Not For Sale by Jose Bové & Francois Dufour

Maybe you have a look here:


I would like to get further suggestions.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: