News & Updates

What Political Prisoners Are Fighting For

Activists are fighting for democracy’s freedoms across the globe. They do so at tremendous personal risk, facing arrest, imprisonment, and the fear they will never see their loved ones again.

For decades, many of these activists have contributed to the pages of the Journal of Democracy. Two of the most well-known political prisoners, Tunisian politician Rached Ghannouchi and Russian civil society leader Vladimir Kara-Murza, are currently imprisoned by corrupt regimes. We are honored to count them among our authors.

Read their inspiring words below, along with a selection of other essays from former political prisoners from Egypt, China, Malaysia, and Burma.

Islam and Democracy in Tunisia
The president of Tunisia’s Ennahdha party, Rached Ghannouchi, argues that the solution to extremism is more (not less) freedom and democracy, along with more moderate religious teachings.
By Rached Ghannouchi

Putin is Not Russia
More Russians are rejecting the Kremlin’s corruption and authoritarianism. They—and not the regime—are Russia’s future.
By Vladimir V. Kara-Murza

Cracks in Sisi’s Façade
Egypt’s upcoming presidential elections may be a sham, but the opposition can still take advantage of the moment to push for desperately needed reforms.
By Waleed Shawky

Universal Values and Muslim Democracy
Claims that Islam is inherently hostile to democracy represent an unwarranted surrender to fundamentalist arguments.
By Anwar Ibrahim

When Fury Overcomes Fear
The coronavirus outbreak exposed the corrupt and rotten core of the Chinese Communist Party’s dictatorial rule over China. It was a moment of revelation.
By Xu Zhangrun

China: From Prison to Freedom
Why has China’s transition to democracy been so delayed, and what can be done to hasten it?
By Yang Jianli 

The Opening in Burma: Strengthening Civil Society
For the country to develop, it needs an informed and engaged citizenry that has the knowledge and freedom to question those in power.
By Min Ko Naing

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Image credit: Dmitry Laudin/