September 2013: The University of Life, the fourth in the Dictator Watch family of websites, is launched!

September Zimbabwe update: The whole judicial process in Zimbabwe has been a joke. The case against the protestors has been postponed again and again. The trial is supposedly soon to be held. Most of the demonstrators are just up for public disorder. The two leaders though are at risk of imprisonment under the more serious charge of organizing a demonstration without permission.

April 2013:
Twenty-three Zimbabweans were arrested last week in Bulawayo, in the Southwest of the country, during a demonstration. One of the leaders of the protest, Busani Sibindi, is our coordinator in the country. He organized the translation of Lessons in Democracy into Zimbabwe's two main languages, Shona and Ndebele.

December 2012:
Downloads of the Chinese translations exceed 1000 per month from the websites of the Wei Jingsheng Foundation.

August 2012:
Readership of Burmese translation of Lessons in Democracy jumps

April 2012:
While perhaps "viral" is still an overstatement, the readership of the article The responsibilities of government, hidden away in our Democracy Forum, has been building steadily and is now approaching 1,000 views a month. The article clearly speaks to the ongoing debate in the United States about the role of government, and has probably been linked by some blogs. Given what is at stake in the debate, and this year's presidential election, it would be excellent if the article truly did go viral and reach a large audience. If you think it is of merit, please link it on your own blogs and mention it on such sites as Facebook. Thanks.

October 2011:
I was invited to participate in a China event at the U.S. Capitol. The subject of the meeting was the 1911 Chinese Xinhai Revolution. This revolution overthrew the last Imperial dynasty and established the Republic of China. It was the first attempt in China to establish a modern state, and which Mao Zedong and the Communists ultimately destroyed.

April 2011:
We have now passed 10,000 Lessons in Democracy translation downloads for Zimbabwe, with 6,500 for Shona and 3,600 for Ndebele.

March 2011:
We have now reached 10,000 downloads of the Burmese Lessons in Democracy translation. Copies of the translation have also been printed in Burma, and Japan, and it is available in its entirety on other websites as well. This is a significant contribution to the goal of furthering democracy education for Burma.

November 2010:
Recommendation by Wei Jingsheng.

I recommend this "Lessons in Democracy" to our Chinese friends both inside China and overseas.  We are sending you this simple textbook which is brief but to the point.  The author Roland Watson is an American writer and activist, who spent years helping people under dictatorships to gain their freedom and democracy.  The Chinese version of "Lessons in Democracy" is translated by the Wei Jingsheng Foundation.  This brief textbook is particularly suitable for the freedom and democracy striving people in the third world countries to read.

The special characteristics of this "Lessons in Democracy" is that it is easy to understand and concise, unlike many formal academic works which are often voluminous yet obscure.  It is not an attempt to explore abstruse theory, or to debate issues of uncertainty.  It simply lets people learn the mature modern democratic system as it has developed over the past few hundred years, in an effort to provide a general understanding of the essence of democracy.

Democracy is not a completed history.  Democracy is a system which is not perfect and is still developing.  So, even for this brief narrative, inevitably there can be some controversy.  We wish our reader friends will provide comments and views to us for any timely modification to reach an even better level.  By doing so, we hope the process of thinking and debate itself would be a good procedure of learning and spreading.  Further, we hope our friends who support freedom and democracy in China will propagate this "Lessons in Democracy" as far and as often as you can, in an effort to end the Communist Party's one-party dictatorship and to realize democracy in China as early as possible.

October 2010: The Lessons in Democracy website has been blocked by the Communist Party of China. The great and glorious CCP, with more than two trillion dollars in savings, and an increasingly powerful military, is afraid of our little book.

September 2010: This link is Radio Free Asia's Mandarin service coverage of the launch of the Chinese translation of Lessons in Democracy at the United States Capitol. In the video clip the opening speaker is Mr. Wei Jingsheng. My English presentation begins at 4:25.

We are very pleased to announce the Chinese translation of Lessons in Democracy, by the Wei Jingsheng Foundation. The translation is available in two Chinese character sets, Simplified and Traditional.

The translation will be launched at a press conference in Room HC-6 of the United States Capitol, from 2.00pm - 3.30pm, September 27th. The conference will be followed by a seminar on The Sixty-One Years of Communist China, by the Asia Democracy Alliance, from 3.30pm - 5pm.

Wei Jingsheng is a leading pro-democracy advocate for China. He spent eighteen years as a political prisoner. His first imprisonment followed Deng Xiaoping's formal announcement of the "four modernizations," in agriculture, industry, national defense, and science and technology.

Mr. Wei wrote an article saying that China needed democracy as well, which article he titled the Fifth Modernization, and which he posted in 1978 on Beijing's Democracy Wall. He was arrested, for the first time, after taking this courageous step.

The lessons were translated by Huang Ciping, Director of the Foundation. Ms. Huang, a scientist in optical physics, was previously President of the Independent Federation of Chinese Students and Scholars in the United States, and the Global Chinese Students and Scholars' Union.

The translation was edited by Cheng Yike. Ms. Cheng is an author and has published seven books in China, including five children's books, a book of essays, and a biDownloads last month jumped. There are generally 200-300 per month from the Lessons in Democracy website, but in August this rose to 1,326, or more than 40 per day. The total downloads are now over 15,000.ography.

March 2010: We had a strong publicity effort for Zimbabwe, which pushed total downloads over 6,000: 4,600 for the Shona translation and 1,800 for Ndebele. We have also passed 7,000 downloads for Burmese.

December 2009:
We are very pleased to announce a new translation of Lessons in Democracy, by Ritta Chigome and Cornellius Nyereyemuka, into the Shona language of Zimbabwe. Shona is the language of the majority in Zimbabwe, and is used by the principal figures both in the regime of Robert Mugabe and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

The Shona translation joins the Ndebele translation that we have already published, for Ndebele speakers in the south of Zimbabwe and also related groups (Zulu cultures) in Botswana and South Africa. The two languages are used by some 90% of Zimbabwe's population.

October 2009: The number of downloads of the Burmese translation of Lessons in Democracy has passed 5,000. However, because the translation has been distributed in other ways as well, we believe readership of the work is well in excess of this figure, and includes at least 1,000 people inside Burma itself. This means a significant number of Burmese now have a thorough grounding in the principles and institutions of democracy. They will be well prepared to implement the democratic system for Burma once it is free.

May 2009:
We are very pleased to announce two new translations of Lessons in Democracy:

- Azerbaijani, by Razi Nurullayev and Ogtay Gulaliyev

- The Ndebele language of Zimbabwe, by Nqaba Terence Ndlovu and Makhosi R. Gondonga

Note: We also have a new photo essay from Zimbabwe.

We will be working in the coming months and years with our partners in Azerbaijan and Zimbabwe, to use the translations to help educate the people of the two countries about democracy.

April 2009:
We have published a short book about the global economic tumult - What Really Happened: The Financial Crisis Guide

The Guide has two objectives: to reveal the different components of the crisis, so everyone, particularly all the people who lost their homes, jobs and savings, can understand what happened; and to lay out a plan by which it can never occur again.

It is further being posted on the Lessons in Democracy website, because the crisis so vividly illustrates the underlying conflict between unrestrained corporate behavior and democratic governance.

We are very pleased to announce the first translation of our Lessons in Democracy, into the Burmese language, by Ko Lwin Aung Soe. More translations are on the way.

The basic idea for the translation is that if the people of Burma want democracy, they should be interested to learn about it. Conversely, if they learn about it, and understand how their lives would be changed, practically, with freedom and human rights, they should be willing to fight for it.

This means that the lessons are not solely an educational initiative. They will have a political impact as well.

The lessons are "A" democracy guide, not "The" democracy guide. There are many approaches to teaching democracy - ours is only one of them. Our approach begins with an emphasis on the underlying principles. When people who live in dictatorships ask about democracy, they don't start with questions about the system's formal mechanisms, like elections and political parties, or its presidential and parliamentary alternatives. Instead, they want to know about the ideas: What is democracy, really? What would it mean to me? How would my life in a democratic nation be different, and better?

Again, for Burma, this implies that the initiative will have a political impact as well as educational. For a start, it will counter SPDC propaganda. The people will understand exactly why the SPDC constitution, the 2010 election, and "disciplined democracy" are not democracy at all. Further, they will realize that human rights are not limited to freedom from repression. They have a right not to be poor; to have good health care; to have good schools for their children; to preserve Burma's beautiful natural environment; and many other rights as well.

Lessons in Democracy is a long-term initiative. It takes years to devise ways to expose a national population to the ideas of democracy, certainly in a dictatorship like Burma. If you can help us distribute the translation, we will be off to a good start. (Thanks!)

New forum topic: Personal versus group responsibilities

January 2009:
New forum topics:

W hat is democracy?

The philosophy of democracy, and theocracy

The philosophy of democracy, and personal responsibility

December 2008:
In support of the election in the United States of Barack Obama, and his commitment to bring real change to Washington, D.C., we have added two basic policy statements about government to the democracy forum.

The responsibilities of government

Government funding and design

These are two of the hitherto unpublished lessons from the full version of Lessons in Democracy.

Also, Lessons in Democracy was described in the August to October World Youth Movement for Democracy bulletin.

October 2008:
Comments on the forum addition about government secrecy, and our responses (see link below).

We have an addition to the democracy forum: Democracy and Government Secrecy

September 2008:
Lessons in Democracy, the third in the Dictator Watch family of websites, is launched!.