David Keyes

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David Keyes

David Keyes is the Executive Director[1] of Advancing Human Rights and co-founder[2] of CyberDissidents.org.

Confronting Iran[edit]

In October 2013, Keyes had a disagreement with Iran's foreign minister. Keyes asked Javad Zarif if he thought it was ironic that he enjoyed posting on Facebook when his government bans it in Iran. Zarif laughed and replied: "That's life."[3] CBS detailed the exchange: "Then Keyes asked Zarif when Tavakoli, one of Iran's most prominent student activists, would be freed. Zarif's response: 'I don't know him.' "[3] Within hours, Zarif's Facebook wall was overwhelmed by Iranians castigating the foreign minister for not knowing Tavakoli.[3] Days after Keyes' confrontation with the foreign minister, Tavakoli was temporarily freed on furlough after four years in prison.[3]

Protest Movements[edit]

In October 2013, The New York Times reported that hackers took down the website of the Saudi women’s driving movement and replaced it with Keyes’ Arabic video supporting women drivers.[4]

Dissident Squared[edit]

On October 13, 2013, Keyes co-authored an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal with Garry Kasparov, a former presidential candidate in Russia and former world chess champion.[5] The article launched Keyes' new initiative, Dissident Squared, to rename the streets in front of the embassies of dictatorships after political prisoners. On January 16, Natan Sharansky presented Keyes' idea to the U.S. Congress saying, "Here is also present my friend, David Keyes... [he] came up with a great idea. In the past, there was a square in Washington in front of the Soviet embassy which was called ‘Sakharov Plaza.’ So each time they had to write something at the Soviet embassy, they had to mention Sakharov. Why not do it in front the Iranian embassy? In front of every embassy of every dictatorship in the world? ” Co-chairman of the Lantos Human Rights Commission, Congressman Frank Wolf, responded, "[T]hat’s a great idea and we will do it..." On May 29, 2014, Wolf, together with Minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, and a bipartisan group of twelve other members of the House, sent a letter to the Mayor of Washington, D.C. and the City Council asking them to rename the street in front of the Chinese embassy after Liu Xiaobo, China’s jailed Nobel Prize winner. Fifteen members of the Senate, including Senators McCain, Rubio and Cruz joined their Democratic counterparts in the House and wrote, "[W]e can think of no more fitting expression of solidarity between the people of the United States and the people of China..." The Washington Post wrote, “[T]he Chinese naturally went ballistic...” The Chinese government issued a strong denunciation calling the idea disrespectful, provocative and ignorant. The Daily Beast cited Keyes as the "brainchild" of Dissident Squared and said it had "earned the support of major human rights luminaries and fighters for freedom around the world."[6]


  1. ^ Advancing Human Rights. "People". Advancing Human Rights. Retrieved 11 November 2011. 
  2. ^ "Experts and Board of Advisors". CyberDissidents.org. 15 November 2010. Retrieved 11 November 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d Stephen Smith (22 October 2013). "Majid Tavakoli, prominent Iranian political prisoner, freed after Facebook backlash". CBS News. 
  4. ^ BEN HUBBARD (26 October 2013). "Saudi Women Rise Up, Quietly, and Slide Into the Driver’s Seat". The New York Times. 
  5. ^ "Issuing a Streetwise Challenge to Dictators". The Wall Street Journal. 13 November 2012. 
  6. ^ James Kirchick (4 November 2012). "Magnitsky Plaza? Let’s Rename the Streets Outside Dictators’ Embassies". The Daily Beast.