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Top 10 tyrants in power

There is a video of the “Top 10 worst dictators that are still in power.” Video content producer and syndicator WatchMojo of Canada published the infotainment on “leaders who hold on to power with iron fists.” WM claims 8.8 billion all-time video views and 15 million subscribers, one of YouTube’s major channels.

The material is a countdown of “the world’s 10 worst tyrants, despots and strongmen who manipulate elections, silence the press and stamp on civil liberties.” From No. 10 it graduates to the most tyrannical on No. 1.

No. 1 is Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir, the first sitting president indicted by the International Criminal Court. His ethnic cleansing has spawned a civil war with a 300,000 death toll. “While breezing through controversial elections and expelling human rights organizations, he is alleged by the ICC to have pilfered a fortune of up to US$9 billion.”

No. 2 is North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, presider of a “totalitarian police state that exerts complete control over media; defectors carry stories of public executions, massive prison camps and forced abortions.”

No. 3: Syria’s Bashar al-Assad who inherited power from his father. His crackdown following the massive Arab Spring protests propelled Syria to a civil war of 400,000 casualties. “Thousands of suspected dissidents imprisoned, tortured, executed; survivors report being electrocuted, raped, their nails torn out with pliers, some are children.”

No. 4: Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan who has assumed sweeping executive powers. Implicated in a corruption scandal involving billions, he then sought to block social media access as damage control. “A thin veneer of democratic process prevails but it is increasingly authoritarian and repressive.”

No. 5: Isaias Afwerki, president since 1993 of Eritrea, a one-party state with no free press and considered “Africa’s North Korea for its self-imposed political isolation” and totalitarianism. Widespread human rights abuses include forced labor, torture, rape by state officials and extrajudicial killings (EJKs). Border patrols shoot to kill thousands fleeing the country each year.

No. 6: Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, in power since 1980. His 5th Brigade, an elite armed force trained by North Korea, has a record of 10,000 murders. Elections involve intimidation, violence and fraud, and the constitution “rewritten to give him almost unassailable power.”

No. 7: Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who ousted and executed his uncle in 1987. His ruthless regime tortures and kills political dissidents, fostering a personality cult around him. “Opponents claim he skins enemies alive; eats their testicles, brains, livers. State radio declares him ‘a god in constant contact with the Almighty.’ His bank account has accrued a fortune of US$600 million.”

No. 8: Ilham Aliyev of the family that has ruled Azerbaijan for decades. Corrupt and authoritarian, the family amassed a massive fortune through backroom business deals. He abolished term limits and his wife is vice president. “Political dissidents face systematic police abuse including detention, torture
of activists, journalists.”

No. 9: Belarus’ Alexander Lukashenko, ruling since 1994, he amended the constitution to remove term limits. Clinging to Soviet policies, he praises Hitler’s “firm authority.” Police beat up political opponents. His mantra is bizarre: “Better to be a dictator than to be gay.”

No. 10: Rodrigo Duterte, Philippines, “isn’t a dictator as such, at least not yet according to some sources, but he describes himself as a ‘dictator against evil.’ Before being elected, he promised his presidency would be a ‘bloody one,’ comparing his war against drugs to the Holocaust. He has urged police and vigilantes to emulate him, resulting in the deaths of over 7,000 alleged criminals and street children.”

Before throwing tantrums, relax Mocha; it’s only infotainment (look up the definition).

Why do we see common denominators of despotism that drive repression: long power grip, intolerance to dissidence, political dynasty, EJKs, ill-gotten wealth? Justifying President Duterte is not in relativizing human rights. Find a better answer.

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