Much of the persecution in the countries listed below is against Christians. Many Christians in each country are or held in detention camps for years, and their families are also killed or detained. ICC works in many of these countries.
Parades Annual List of the Worlds 10 Worst Dictators
By David Wallechinsky
PARADE Magazine (01/22/06)
A dictator is a head of state who exercises arbitrary authority over the lives of his citizens and who cannot be removed from power through legal means. The worst commit terrible human-rights abuses. This present list draws in part on reports by global human-rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, Reporters Without Borders and Amnesty International. While the three worst from 2005 have retained their places, two on last years list (Muammar al-Qaddafi of Libya and Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan ) have slipped out of the Top 10not because their conduct has improved but because other dictators have gotten worse.
1) Omar al-Bashir, Sudan . Age 62. In power since 1989. Last years rank: 1
Since February 2003, Bashirs campaign of ethnic and religious persecution has killed at least 180,000 civilians in Darfur in western Sudan and driven 2 million people from their homes. The good news is that Bashirs army and the Janjaweed militia that he supports have all but stopped burning down villages in Darfur . The bad news is why theyve stopped: There are few villages left to burn. The attacks now are aimed at refugee camps. While the media have called these actions a humanitarian tragedy, Bashir himself has escaped major condemnation. In 2005, Bashir signed a peace agreement with the largest rebel group in non-Islamic southern Sudan and allowed its leader, John Garang, to become the nations vice president. But Garang died in July in a helicopter crash, and Bashirs troops still occupy the south.
2) Kim Jong-il , North Korea . Age 63. In power since 1994. Last years rank: 2
While the outside world focuses on Kim Jong-ils nuclear weapons program, domestically he runs the worlds most tightly controlled society. North Korea continues to rank last in the index of press freedom compiled by Reporters Without Borders, and for the 34th straight year it earned the worst possible score on political rights and civil liberties from Freedom House. An estimated 250,000 people are confined in reeducation camps. Malnourishment is widespread: According to the United Nations World Food Program, the average 7-year-old boy in North Korea is almost 8 inches shorter than a South Korean boy the same age and more than 20 pounds lighter.
3) Than Shwe , Burma ( Myanmar ). Age 72. In power since 1992. Last years rank: 3
In November 2005, without warning, Than Shwe moved his entire government from Rangoon ( Yangon ), the capital for the last 120 years, to Pyinmana, a remote area 245 miles away. Civil servants were given two days notice and are forbidden from resigning. Burma leads the world in the use of children as soldiers, and the regime is notorious for using forced labor on construction projects and as porters for the army in war zones. The long-standing house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi, winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize and Than Shwes most feared opponent, recently was extended for six months. Just to drive near her heavily guarded home is to risk arrest.
4) Robert Mugabe , Zimbabwe . Age 81. In power since 1980. Last years rank: 9
Life in Zimbabwe has gone from bad to worse: It has the worlds highest inflation rate, 80% unemployment and an HIV/AIDS rate of more than 20%. Life expectancy has declined since 1988 from 62 to 38 years. Farming has collapsed since 2000, when Mugabe began seizing white-owned farms, giving most of them to political allies with no background in agriculture. In 2005, Mugabe launched Operation Murambatsvina (Clean the Filth), the forcible eviction of some 700,000 people from their homes or businessesto restore order and sanity, says the government. But locals say the reason was to forestall demonstrations as the economy deteriorates.
5) Islam Karimov , Uzbekistan . Age 67. In power since 1990. Last years rank: 15
Until 2005, the worst excesses of Karimovs regime had taken place in the torture rooms of his prisons. But on May 13, he ordered a mass killing that could not be concealed. In the city of Andijan , 23 businessmen, held in prison and awaiting a verdict, were freed by their supporters, who then held an open meeting in the town square. An estimated 10,000 people gathered, expecting government officials to come and listen to their grievances. Instead, Karimov sent the army, which massacred hundreds of men, women and children. A 2003 law made Karimov and all members of his family immune from prosecution forever.
To read the last five, click here: Parade’s List of 10 Worst Dictators