From a Korean dissident to a nuclear scientist, via Vaclav Havel, we look at some of the world’s most famous political prisoners.
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Mohammed Abdel Rahman Abdel Raouf Arafat al-Qudwa al-Husseini. To some, he exemplified resistance, a man who turned a fledgling, rag-tag movement into a world renowned organisation, with sole responsibility for the Palestinians. Ramallah. It was from there that the gallant leader, once the face of a dispossessed people, still defiant, led his people . He was allowed to go to Paris for medical treatment, but he returned home only to be buried.
Indeed, he had the advantage of scripting it as the father of the Soviet H-bomb, dissident and a political prisoner. Andrei Sakharov emerged in the Soviet state, among the swarms of corrupt, venal, unprincipled intelligentsia.\u201d Growing increasingly disillusioned with the incompatibility of the state mechanism, with the principles of individual liberty and human understanding, He said, \u2018It needs political and ideological pluralism, a mixed economy and protection of human rights and the opening up of society.\u2019 The party exiled him to that obscure city of Gorky, but his legend only aggravated, culminating in his release in 1986. By then, Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov had paved the way for the democratization of the Soviet Union by simply refusing to yield.
Suu Kyi is a living embodiment of accomplishment. Because, through her two decade long struggle to bring democracy to Burma, she has maintained that the quintessential revolution is that of the spirit. Branded as a \u2018terrorist\u2019 by the junta and placed under house arrest since 1990, the leader of the National League for Democracy has handled her ordeal with extraordinary grace and dignity. At the age of sixty four, her zeal has not diminished, and her people march to that elusive quest of freedom and democracy.
Invasion of the British consulate in Ghent. Balloons filled with tomato sauce hurled at the queen. Condolences from Tehran and Delhi. Just some of the many reactions observed when a twenty seven year old Irishman died of a hunger fast after sixty six days in Long Kesh.
Kidnapped from a hotel room in Tokyo by members of KICA, General Park\u2019s notorious spy agency in 1973, Kim Dae-Jung was brought to his Seoul residence, only to be placed under house arrest. Kim saw his country swap one dictator for another, until the great liberator, financial crisis, brought him to power, but not even an embrace from Kim Jong Il at Pyongyang prevented him from being voted out.
India\u2019s independence struggle was forged from the prison walls by the political mastermind, whose ideals of non violent civil disobedience brought about the end of British imperialism. Gandhi was unfazed by mortar, brick and stone. He successfully transformed the prison from a place of derision to a center of festive reunion, never flinching to return to captivity.
Mordechai Vanunu was trapped by the most elementary of methods. The trial was a clandestine affair and, not surprisingly, landed him in prison for eighteen years, eleven of which were spent in solitary confinement. What did he do? He exposed Israel\u2019s nuclear program.
Tried and convicted in the Rivonia trial for sabotage against the apartheid government, the black nationalist leader was deemed too dangerous to walk the streets of South Africa for twenty seven years, his demand for a non racial South Africa too much to bear. Masekela got his wish on the 11th of February, 1990. Mandela emerged from Victor-verster prison, a face until then unrecognizable to most South Africans, to a warm welcome from the teeming multitude who had come to catch a glimpse of their messiah.
If anybody would know, it would be him. Vaclav Havel transitioned from a writer of plays to the writer of his country\u2019s destiny. When the Prague Spring ushered in Czechoslovakia\u2019s winter of discontent, Havel scripted the Charter 77 manifesto, co-founded the Committee for the Defense of the Unjustly Persecuted and endured imprisonment with fellow artists.