When Speaking Out Can Cost You Everything

Tamer Aydogdu
3 min readNov 17

The saying “It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong” carries significant weight, particularly regarding freedom of speech. Although developed nations often claim to uphold this fundamental right, the reality is that speaking truth to power can come at a high cost. In authoritarian regimes, where dissent is quickly suppressed, individuals who dare to challenge the official narrative risk imprisonment, torture, or even death.

Imagine a situation where a leader known for being authoritarian and dictatorial denies providing weapons to a particular country. However, through extensive research and reliable sources, a determined journalist uncovers evidence that contradicts the leader’s claims. The journalist exposes the truth, unaware of the severe consequences that await them.

The authoritarian regime takes action when the journalist’s exposé becomes public. They falsely accuse the journalist of revealing “state secrets” and quickly apprehend them, effectively silencing their voice. This act sends a clear message to anyone who dares to question the regime’s authority.

The scenario presented, unfortunately not hypothetical, reflects the experiences of numerous journalists, activists, and ordinary citizens who have dared to question the power structures in authoritarian regimes. Their pursuit of truth and their insistence on holding those in power accountable have often resulted in their persecution and silencing.

The suppression of dissent in authoritarian regimes is not just about silencing individuals. It is a deliberate strategy to maintain control and perpetuate the regime’s self-serving agenda. By stifling the free flow of information, these regimes aim to ensure that their narratives remain unchallenged and their power remains unthreatened.

Freedom of speech is a fundamental right that developed nations often claim to uphold. They enshrine this right in their constitutions and protect it through legal mechanisms. However, even in such societies, freedom of speech has its limitations.

Tamer Aydogdu

Dutch and Turkish national, progressive, dedicated to bridging cultures, fostering equality, and illuminating minds.