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Sunday, February 13, 2005
(The following list has been prepared after
consultation with Human Rights Watch, Freedom House,
Amnesty International and Reporters Without Boders --
human-reights groups that have not hesitated to
expose the policies of dictatorships on both left
and the right.)

1... Omar al-Bashit, Sudan. Age 61.
in power since 1989
Last year's rank: 7

A colossal humanitarian tragey in western Sudan's
Darfur region has uprooted 2 million activities of
government supported militias. This is nothing new
in Sudan, where Omar al-Bashir, its dictator, has
engaged in ethnic and religious persecution since
seizing power in a military coup. Sudan has 6 million
internally displaced persons -- more than any other
nation. In southern Sudan, where Christianity and
traditional religions are practiced, Bashir tried to
impose Islamic law in a campaing that included aerial
bombing of villages and enslavement of what some called
a civil war between Muslims and Christians.
(In Darfur, meanwhile, he has been killing Muslims.)
Last month, Bashir signed a cease fire with rebels of
the south. It allows government troops to remain in
southern Sudan and prohibits southerners from voting for
indepenence for six years.

2... Kin Jong Il, North Korea, Age 62.
in power since 1994.
Last year's rank: 1

Kim Il Jong slipped from first place, but not
for want of trying. North Korea still ranks last
in Reporters Without Borders internationl index
press freedom, and it earned Freedom House's worst
score for political rights and civil liberties for
the 33rd straight year (a world record). The Ministry
of People's Security places spies in workplaces and
neighborhoods to inform if anyone who citicizes the
regime, even at home. All radios and TV sets are fixed
to received only government stations. Disloyalty to
Kim Jong Il and his later father, Kim Il Sung,
is a punishable crime. Offense include allowing pictures
of either leader to gather dusts or be torn or be folded.
The population is divided into "loyalty groups".
One third belong to the "hostile class". These people
receive the worst jobs and housing and may not live in
the capital , Pyongyang. Below the hostiles are the
estimated 250,000 held in prison camps, some for crimes
allegedly committed by relatives. Executions oftern are
performed in public.

3... Than Shwe, Burma.
Age 22, In Power sice 1992.
Last year's rank:2

In response to world opinion, Gen. Than Swe
freed 9000 prisoners, but hopes for a new
liberalism faded when only 40 were political
detainees(among more than 1000 still being held.)
The rest were common ciriminals. Than Shwe extended
the house arrest of Nobel Peace Prize winner
Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party won 80 % of the vote
in the last election (1990). The arrest of opposiition
members resumed. Freedom of expression is not allowed;
unlicesned possession fo a fax machine is not allowed.
To relocate ethnic minorities, the army destroyed
3000 villages and drove 1.2 million Burmnese from
their homes. IN a landmark case, Unocal Corp. of
California agreed to pay damages to Burmeses villagers
who said the military used torture, rape or murder to
force them to work on the company's pipeline.

4...Hu Jintao, China. age 62,
in power since 2002
Last year's rank: 3

Despite China's economic liberalization, President Hu Jintao's
government remains one of the most repressive. Some 250,000
Chinese are serving sentences in "re-education and labor camps".
China executes more people than all other nations combined,
often for nonviolent crimes. The death penalty can be given
for burglary, embezzlement, counterfeiting, bribery or
killing panda. Hu's government controls all media and Internet
use. Defense lawyers who argue too vigorously for cleints rights
may be disbarred or imprisoned. And if minorities
such as Tibetans) speak out for autonomy, they're labeled
"terrorists" imprisoned and tortured.

5... Crown Prince Abdullah,
Saudi Arabia. Age 81.
in power since 1995
Last year's rank:5

Bending under strong internaional pressure,
Crown Prince Abdullah and his family, who have
absolute power, are holding Saudi Arabia's first
elections in 40 years-municipal elections,that is.
Women may not vote or run for office, owing to
"technical difficulties". Most Saudi women don't
have the photo IDs needed to register, there aren't
enough female officials to register those who do;
and men may not register women, because the sexes
are forbidden to mingle in public. Worldwide, the
royal family promotes an extreme form of Islam
called Wahhabism, which considers all followers of
other religions--even other Muslims -- "infidels".
In 2004, the U.S. State Department added Saudi Arabia
to its list of nations in which religious liberty
is severely violated.

6...Muammar al-Qaddafi,Libya
Age 62. in power since 1969.
Last year's rank: Dishonorable mention

Increasingly annoyed by other Arab leaders,
Qaddafi -- once considered supporter of terrosrim -
has gone to great lengths to re-establish links
with the West. He turned over a perpetrator of 1988
teroritst bombing of an American commerical flight
over Lockerbie, Scotland, and made substantial payments
to families of the victims of both the Lockerbie bombing
and that of a French plane. He gave his nuclear weapons
program and is opening his nation's economy to foregin
investment. Yet at home he continues to run a brutal
dictatorship, maintaining total control over all aspects
of Libyan life. Freedom of speech, assembly and religions
are harshly restricted. Entire families, tribes and even
towns can be punished for "collective guilt". Political
opposition and damaging public or private property are
considered "crimes against the state".

7... Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan.
Age 61. In power since 1999
Last Year's rank: Not mentioned

Two years after seizing power in a military coup
that overthrew an elected government,
Gen. Pervez Musharraf appointed himself president
of Pakistan. He recently agreed to step down as head
of the military, then reversed his decision, claiming
that he was best suited to unite Pakistan's contentious
political and military elements. "The country is more
important than democracy", he said. Pakistan has
endangered the world by spreading nuclear technoliogy.
Last year, it was discovered that Abdul Qadeer Khan,
head of Pakistan's nuclear weapon's program, had been
selling nuclear technology to North Korea, Libya and Iran.
As for civil liberties in Pakistan, a woman who has been
raped may present her case only if she can produce four
muslim men who witnessed that attack.

8... Saparmurat Niyazov, Turkmenistan.
Age 64. In power since 1990
Last year's rank: 8

Niyazov has developed an overbearing personality
cult that crushes dissent and invades all aspects
of life in Turkmenistan, no matter how trivial.
He controls his one party state with torture,
disappearances, detentions, house demolitions,
forced labor and exile. He muzzels all media, and
it is illegal to criticize any of his policies.
Statues of Niyazpov appears everywhere, and his
picture is on all denominations of money. His
"moral guide", Rukhnama (Book of the Soul),
is required reading for students, married couples
and even applications for a driver's license.
Female newscasters may not wear makeup, nor may young
man wear beard, long hair and gold teeth.

9... Robert Mugabe,Zimbabwe.
Age 90, in power since 1980.
Last year's rank:4

After leading an anti-colonial war of liberation,
Mugabe was elected Zimbabwe's first prime minister,
raiging hopes for a new era of democracy. But he has
turned increasingly dictatorial and run his country
into the ground. Average life expectacny in Zimbabwe
is 33 years-- among the lower in the world. One of
Mugabe's many repressive laws deems it a crime
"to make an abusive, indecent or obscene statement"
about him. He continues to hold elections, but opposition
is discouraged. Looking toward a vote in March, the
parliament passed a law banning from Zimbabwe any
human-rights or civil liberties group that recieves
money from abroad. In other words, independent elections
monitors will not be allowed.

10..Teodoro Obiang Nguema,
Equatorial New Guinea. Age 62.
In power since 1979.
Last year's rank"6

Since major oil reserves were discovered there in 1995,
U.S. oil companies have poured $5 billion into this tiny
West African nation.Most of the oil income goes to
President Obiang and his family, while the mojority
of his people live on less than $1 a day. Some Americans
oil companies are being investigated for improprieties
involving Obiang. The U.S. State Department has accused
Obinag's government of committing torture. In Novembr,
20 peopke-- including 11 foreign nationals were sentenced
to prison for an alledged coup attempt. The only evidnece
agaisnt them, say Amnesty International were confessions
extracted through tortures.

(abdtracted from PARADE MAG/CHITRIBUNE by: David Wallechinsky)
posted by infraternam meam @ 1:38 PM  
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