It isn’t easy fighting a dictator. You will be harassed and threatened. Your name or reputation can be destroyed, your family torn apart. If you persist, you can be beaten, imprisoned, or worse. And yet, in country after country, people stand up against modern-day strongmen. For the past three years, while doing reporting for my book, The Dictator’s Learning Curve, I met scores of people who take these risks in Caracas and Cairo, Moscow and Kuala Lumpur, Beijing and Belgrade. Some were students, lawyers, or environmentalists. Others were opposition leaders, businesspeople, academics, even ex-military. Although observers consistently underestimate them, it is people like this that spur others to action and test an authoritarian regime’s true resilience. Below, meet 12 people whose courage and perseverance keep dictators up at night.