A new report from Freedom House on the world’s most repressive societies in 2012.
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Although the Cuban government released some political prisoners in an agreement with the Catholic Church, Havana also detained a number of human rights activists in advance of the Pope’s visit. The government separately has relaxed some economic restrictions.
Equatorial Guinea long has been one of Africa’s most oppressive nations. The country held a fraudulent constitutional referendum. When it hosted the 2011 African Union summit, the government launched a crackdown, with “security forces reportedly detaining hundreds of suspected dissidents,” reported Freedom House.
Eritrea is another state known mostly for its brutal repressiveness. The rulers have never held elections in the almost 20 years since the country’s successful secession. Unfortunately, “The Eritrean government’s suppression of the basic political rights and civil liberties of its citizens continued.” Independent media is not simply restricted; it is banned.
Laos remains a communist throwback in which there is no political or media freedom. Libya, in contrast, improved with the overthrow of Moammar Gaddafi, though the country’s ultimate fate remains to be decided.
North Korea probably is the most repressive, misgoverned nation on earth. So far the death of dictator Kim Jong-il has led to no relaxation of the regime’s totalitarian controls. The only reform might be the issuance of designer hand-cuffs in prison. The North is an issue for more than its own oppressed people because it is developing nuclear weapons and threatening South Korea with war.
Saudi Arabia is a totalitarian Muslim state. Supposedly an important U.S. ally, Riyadh grew more repressive with “new restrictions on the media and public speech as well as the severe treatment of religious minorities, including crackdowns on Shiite Muslim protests.”
Somalia may be the closest example of anarchy on earth today. Noted Freedom House: “The Somali state has in many respects ceased to exist, and there is no governing authority with the ability to protect political rights and civil liberties.”
South Ossetia has declared independence from Georgia but has not implemented democracy. Rather, the outgoing president “jailed and threatened opposition figures and changed legislation to prevent the registration” of opposition candidates.
Sudan has never been a free society. Unfortunately, there was “a surge in arrests of opposition political activists and leaders, the banning of a leading political party, the violent response to public demonstrations in Khartoum and other cities, and a crackdown on the activities of journalists.” The situation could worsen with the potential of conflict after the secession of South Sudan.
Syria saw a significant deterioration with increased government repression and the slide into civil war. Beijing continued to maintain its harsh rule in Tibet. Turkmenistan “took greater repressive measures against human rights activists inside and outside the country.”
Uzbekistan is another Central Asian dictatorship. That nation’s government “suppressed all political opposition and restricted independent business activity.” Moreover, “the few remaining civic activists and critical journalists in the country faced prosecution, hefty fines, and arbitrary detention.”
Western Sahara, the former Spanish colony conquered by Morocco, saw a decline in liberty “due to the inability of civil society groups to form and operate, as well as serious restrictions on property rights and business activity.” Unfortunately, native “Sahrawis continued to be denied basic political, civil, and economic rights.”
It would be comforting to believe that the world was steadily and inevitably moving toward greater liberty. However, while there are moments of great progress—such as the collapse of communism—there also are moments of great despair.
Some day freedom may come to the Worst of the Worst. However, so far repression has proved to be brutally resilient. While the U.S. cannot turn into a crusader state attempting to liberate all these peoples by force, Americans and other people of good will around the world should do what they can to embarrass and challenge regimes which oppress.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online