The Daily Beast From a children’s-book author languishing in an Egyptian prison to an early critic of the Assad regime, these jailed dissidents deserve our attention in the new year.
Before we party 2014 away and usher in a new year, we hope readers take a few moments to remember those brave activists languishing behind bars for advocating basic freedoms. The Daily Beast recently partnered with Advancing Human Rights to continue putting a spotlight on dissidents from dictatorships around the world.
Movements.org is Advancing Human Rights’ new crowd-sourcing platform that connects activists from closed societies with people around the world who can help. It is an innovative model of human rights that gives all people—technologists, policy-makers, writers, journalists, artists and more—an easy way to support the struggle for freedom. Every day, more and more human-rights activists are coming to Movements.org to find help.
Below are 11 political prisoners whose stories came through
which are well deserving of our attention and time in 2015.
Iran’s Dissident Ayatollah: Hossein Boroujerdi
By Shayan Arya
Ayatollah Boroujerdi, is a traditional Shiite cleric who openly and unapologetically questions the legitimacy of the Islamic regime in Iran and calls for a regime change. He advocates a secular regime with a total separation of religion form the government.
Since 1994 when he reportedly first expressed his opposition to the concept of “Velayat Faghih,” Khomeini’s main doctrine, the rule of the supreme jurist, to the time of his arrest in 2007 he has been consistent in his opposition to the Islamic Republic. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison.
He was charged with “waging war against God,” endangering national security, and having contact with anti-revolutionaries and spies among other things. His importance is mainly in the fact that he is one of the very few traditional Shiite clerics with a sizable following—some of his sermons were attended by tens of thousands of his followers—that has openly called for a regime change and a establishment of a secular regime.
He has not changed his view in prison despite the enormous pressure exerted on him by the regime. His followers were and are mainly lower-class to lower-middle class and religiously conservative people in Tehran and other cities. In that regard he is unique.
Shayan Arya is a human rights who serves on the central committee of the Constitutionalist Party of Iran (Liberal Democrat) and written for The Wall Street Journal