"My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations" - Mark 11:17

Oppressive Regimes

"Wherever the Church has been aroused and the world's wickedness arrested, somebody, somewhere has been praying."
~ Dr. A.T. Pierson


An Oppressive Regime:  
Ruling or controlling people by the use of force or violence, or by laws that put unreasonable limits on their freedom.



More than 1.6 billion people—23 percent of the world’s population—have no say in how they are governed and face severe consequences if they try to exercise their most basic rights, such as expressing their views, assembling peacefully, and organizing independently of the state.

Citizens who dare to assert their rights in these repressive countries typically suffer harassment and imprisonment and often are subjected to physical or psychological abuse.




The World's most Oppressive countries

In these countries, state control over public life is pervasive, and individuals have little if any recourse to justice for crimes the state commits against them.  The state has control over daily life, banning free speech, independent organizations, and political opposition, and practicing severe human rights violations. 

In almost ALL of the countries/regions where a repressive regime is in power, Christians are persecuted and often are treated worse than any of the other citizens.


The one thing we can do for the people of these nations is PRAY FOR THEIR LEADERS 



Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko is relishing his notoriety as Europe's last dictator.  After 18 years in power, the blunt, forceful and heavily built former state farm manager shows no sign of bowing to Western pressure to relax his grip on the former Soviet republic squeezed between Russia and the European Union.

There is not a single opposition deputy in parliament. Lukashenko, if re-elected, can rule indefinitely following a referendum that allowed term limits to be lifted, and the opposition has been all but crushed into submission.

The state suppresses virtually all forms of dissent and uses restrictive legislation and abusive practices to impede freedoms of association and assembly. Journalists are routinely harassed and subjected to arbitrary arrests and detention. Political prisoners are jailed. Those who are released continue to face restrictions, ranging from travel limitations to inclusion in law enforcement agencies’ ‘watch lists.' Civil society groups cannot function freely. 

Source:  Human Rights Watch


CHECHNYA (Under Russian Jurisdiction)

Ramzan Akhmadovich Kadyrov is the Head of the Chechen Republic and a former Chechen rebel.

Ramzan is a son of former Chechen President Akhmad Kadyrov, who was assassinated in May 2004. He has the support of current Russian President Vladimir Putin and was awarded the Hero of Russia medal, the highest honorary title of Russia.

Kadyrov has been personally implicated in several instances of torture and murder. A number of Chechens opposed to Kadyrov have been assassinated abroad, and several witnesses report the existence of a 300-name "Murder List."

Sources:  Human Rights Watch  Wikipedia



Xi Jinping is the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, the President of the People's Republic of China and the Chairman of the Central Military Commission. As Xi holds the top offices of the party, state, and military, he is informally referred to as the "paramount leader."

The Xi Jinping administration proposed several reforms to longstanding policies, including abolishing one form of arbitrary detention, known as re-education through labor (RTL), and changes to the household registration system. It staged high-profile corruption investigations, mostly targeting political rivals. But it also struck a conservative tone, opposing the constitutional rule, press freedom, and “western-style” rule of law, and issuing harsher restrictions on dissent, including through two legal documents making it easier to bring criminal charges against activists and Internet critics. The government remains an authoritarian one-party state. It places arbitrary curbs on expression, association, assembly, and religion; prohibits independent labor unions and human rights organizations; and maintains Party control over all judicial institutions.

China’s human rights activists often face imprisonment, detention, torture, commitment to psychiatric facilities, house arrest, and intimidation.

Although the constitution guarantees freedom of religion, the government restricts religious practices to officially approved mosques, churches, temples, and monasteries organized by five officially recognized religious organizations. It audits the activities, employee details, and financial records of religious bodies, and retains control over religious personnel appointments, publications, and seminary applications.

Unregistered spiritual groups such as Protestant “house churches” are deemed unlawful and subjected to raids and closures; members are harassed, and leaders are detained and sometimes jailed.

Source: Human Rights Watch



Cuban President Raul Castro succeeded Fidel Castro in 2008. Under Fidel, Raul was the head of Cuba’s armed forces and served as defense minister. Politically, Raul has almost always been at his brother's side. He helped Fidel in his first attempt to unseat Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1953. 

The Cuban government continues to repress individuals and groups who criticize the government or call for basic human rights. Officials employ a range of tactics to punish dissent and instill fear in the public, including beatings, public acts of shaming, termination of employment, and threats of long-term imprisonment. Short-term arbitrary arrests have increased dramatically in recent years and routinely prevent human rights defenders, independent journalists, and others from gathering or moving about freely.

Source:  Human Rights Watch



Catherine Samba-Panza is the interim president of the Central African Republic and the first woman to hold the post. 

In September 2013, the Central African Republic’s human rights and the humanitarian situation took a sharp turn for the worse. After months of brutality by the predominantly Muslim Seleka (“alliance”) forces, which had overthrown the government of President François Bozizé in March, the mainly Christian militias known as the anti-balaka (“anti-machete”) began to organize counterattacks. The anti-balaka, which began as local self-defense groups under Bozizé, have targeted Muslim communities and committed numerous abuses. Michel Djotodia, the Seleka leader who in August was officially sworn in as president until 2015 elections, announced in September the Seleka were being dissolved. However, the ex-Seleka fighters continued their string of abuses across the country.

After her election she said: 
"I call on my children, especially the anti-balaka, to put down their arms and stop all the fighting. The same goes for the ex-Séléka – they should not have fear. I don't want to hear any more talk of murders and killings. Starting today, I am the president of all Central Africans, without exclusion."

Source:  Human Rights Watch



In a continent infamous for repressive dictatorships, Equatorial Guinea is among the very worst. Its president, Teodoro Obiang Nguema, has been in power for 34 years, making him Africa’s longest-serving dictator. The country is enormously wealthy, thanks to its vast oil reserves, but that wealth is concentrated in the hands of a tiny elite.

Abuses under Obiang have included unlawful killings by security forces; government-sanctioned kidnappings; systematic torture of prisoners and detainees by security forces; life-threatening conditions in prisons and detention facilities; impunity; arbitrary arrest, detention, and incommunicado detention.

Most Equatorial Guineans remain in crushing poverty, with little or no access to decent healthcare or education. Opposition to the status quo, meanwhile, is virtually non-existent: torture and intimidation of the government’s critics are common place, while any attempts to organize outside official government channels are crushed.

Sources:  Human Rights Watch  Daily Maverick



Eritrea’s President Isaias Afewerki became leader of the country in 1993 following Eritrea’s independence from Ethiopia. In 2008, Afewerki announced that elections would be postponed for three or four decades, further helping to entrench his regime. Eritrea’s ruler bans all human rights groups and closed down all international development agencies in 1997 in an effort to suppress any opposition.

In 2001, 11 top government officials were arrested for petitioning the president for democratic reform. While the officials still languish in prison, they are yet to stand trial and can face execution for committing ‘suspected treason.'

Eritrea is among the most closed countries in the world; human rights conditions remain dismal. Indefinite military service, torture, arbitrary detention, and severe restrictions on freedoms of expression, association, and religion provoke thousands of Eritreans to flee the country each month. 

Since 2002, the government has jailed and physically abused citizens for practicing religions other than the four government-controlled or recognized religions—Sunni Islam, Ethiopian Orthodox, Catholicism, and Lutheranism. Most arrests occur in private houses, but many also occur during private Quran or Bible study at colleges or at national service training centers.
Some prisoners are offered release on condition that they sign statements renouncing their faith. 

Source:  Human Rights Watch  Action for our Planet



The Lao People's Democratic Republic, along with China, Cuba, North Korea, and Vietnam is one of the world's five remaining socialist states. The only legal political party is the Lao People's Revolutionary Party (LPRP).

The head of state is President Choummaly Sayasone, who is also the General Secretary of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party. The head of government is Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong, who is also a senior member of the Politburo.

Choummaly Sayasone                                                                Thongsing Thammavong

The government of Laos does not abide by its own constitution and the rule of law, since the judiciary and judges are appointed by the communist party in Laos, and there is no independent judicial branch. Human rights violations remain serious. 

The government of Laos has been accused of committing genocide against that country’s Hmong ethnic minority. Some Hmong groups fought as CIA-backed units on the Royalist side in the Laos civil war. After the Pathet Lao took over the country in 1975, the conflict continued in isolated pockets. In 1977 a communist newspaper promised the party would hunt down the “American collaborators” and their families “to the last root.” As many as 200,000 Hmong went into exile in Thailand, with many ending up in the USA.

Laos and Vietnamese troops were reported to have raped and killed four Christian Hmong women in Xieng Khouang province in 2011, according to US NGO The Centre for Public Policy Analysis. CPPA also said other Christian and independent Buddhist and animist believers were being persecuted.

Source:  Wikipedia



Following the death of one of the world’s longest serving dictators, Muammar Gaddafi who ruled Libya for 42 years, since 1969 and accused of crimes against humanity including torture, civilian massacres, burying people alive, and bombing civilian areas, the country has gone through a lot of turmoil since the Arab Spring revolution in 2011.                                

The current rulers are President of the House of Representatives Aguila Salah Issa and Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani

                             Abdullah al-Thani                                                      Aguila Salah Issa                             

Libya’s interim government faced multiple challenges in 2013. Myriad armed groups controlled security in many parts of the country, thousands of detainees remained in government and militia-controlled detention facilities without access to justice, and rampant ill-treatment and deaths in custody persisted. Forced displacement of tens of thousands of people from the town of Tawergha by militias from nearby Misrata had yet to be resolved.

Source:  Human Rights Watch


MYANMAR (BURMA)           

Burma’s Senior General Than Shwe ruled the poverty-stricken country from 1992 but officially gave up his duties as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces in 2011. During his leadership and still to this day, free press is strictly prohibited, political gatherings are illegal, and democracy protests are banned. In 2001, hundreds of thousands of Burmese citizens fled their homes after a military campaign designed to instill fear into the Burmese population.  In 2008, thousands of pro-democracy protesters were massacred with much more captured, tortured and imprisoned never to be seen again.

Serving as the current president since February 2011, Thein Sein is like the custodian trying to clean the mess that has been a Burma (otherwise known as Myanmar) for about the past 50 years. Although he has a military background, Thein Sein is the first civilian leader of Burma since it became a military dictatorship in 1962. He has been labeled as a moderate, reformist leader especially in comparison to his recent predecessors. 

Basic freedoms of assembly and association improved but laws were enforced inconsistently, and in several instances peaceful demonstrators still faced arrest. Reports of Burmese army abuses against civilians persist.  

An estimated 400,000 internally displaced persons remained in eastern Burma, and another 130,000 refugees live in nine camps along the Thailand-Burma border. Thailand, Burma, and the UN refugee agency have agreed that conditions for the refugees’ return in safety and dignity are not yet present.  
Source:  Human Rights Watch



Undeniably the world’s worst Oppressive Regime with Kim Jong-Un as leader.  He assumed power after his father’s death in 2011, and many reports indicate that the human rights violations under his leadership are continuing.  Such violations include ordering the killing of defectors, conducting public executions and sending people to political prison camps.

Although North Korea has ratified four key international human rights treaties and technically possesses a constitution with some rights protections, in reality, the government represses all forms of freedom of expression and opinion and does not allow any organized political opposition, independent media, free trade unions, civil society organizations, or religious freedom. Those who attempt to assert rights, fail to demonstrate sufficient reverence for the party and its leadership, or otherwise, act in ways deemed contrary to state interests face arbitrary arrest, detention, lack of due process, and torture and ill-treatment. The government also practices collective punishment for supposed anti-state offenses, effectively enslaving hundreds of thousands of citizens, including children, in prison camps and other detention facilities with deplorable conditions and forced labor.

The government practices collective punishment, sending to forced labor camps not only the offender but also their parents, spouse, children, and even grandchildren. These camps are notorious for horrific living conditions and abuse, including induced starvation, little or no medical care, lack of proper housing and clothes, continuous mistreatment and torture by guards, and executions.

The 2013 report on the situation of human rights in North Korea by United Nations Special Rapporteur Marzuki Darusman proposed a United Nations commission of inquiry to document the accountability of Kim Jong-Un and other individuals in the North Korean government for alleged crimes against humanity.  

Source:  Wikipedia  Human Rights Watch



Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud has ruled over one of the world’s most oppressive countries since 2005. Torture, public executions, floggings and stoning without legal proceedings are all forms of capital punishment endorsed by King Abdullah and the Saudi regime. Women are severely restricted in the country and have to obtain permission from a male guardian if they want to travel, work, study or marry. Saudi women are also banned from driving and freedom of speech, opposition parties and political gatherings are also banned. 

Saudi Arabia stepped up arrests, trials, and convictions of peaceful dissidents, and forcibly dispersed peaceful demonstrations by citizens in 2013. Authorities continued to violate the rights of 9 million Saudi women and girls and 9 million foreign workers. As in past years, authorities subjected thousands of people to unfair trials and arbitrary detention. In 2013, courts convicted seven human rights defenders and others for peaceful expression or assembly demanding political and human rights reforms.

Source: Human Rights Watch  Action for our Planet



Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, President of Somalia, was elected on 10 September 2012 and inaugurated six days later. 

Civilians continue to suffer serious human rights abuses as the new Somali government struggles to extend its control beyond the capital, Mogadishu, and to some key towns in south-central Somalia. Parties to Somalia’s long-running armed conflict were responsible for serious violations of international law; abuses include indiscriminate attacks, sexual violence, and arbitrary arrests and detention. 

The Islamist armed group Al-Shabaab maintains control of much of southern Somalia.

Women and girls face alarming levels of sexual violence throughout the country. Internally displaced women and girls are particularly vulnerable to rape by armed men including government soldiers and militia members.

All Somali parties to the conflict continue to commit serious abuses against children, including recruitment into armed forces and arbitrary detentions. Al-Shabaab, in particular, has targeted children for recruitment and forced marriage and attacked schools.

Source:  Human Rights Watch



After taking power in a bloodless military coup in 1989, Omar Al-Bashir has ruled Sudan with an iron fist, crushing any political dissent. In 2009, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for the Sudanese leader for crimes against humanity committed in the Darfur region of the country.

Although he is one of the world’s most wanted men, Bashir continues to be involved with human rights abuses, particularly in Southern Sudan even after it gained independence from Sudan.  Since 2003, 2.7 million people have been driven from their homes as a result of Bashir’s military campaigns which involve pillaging, murder, rape, and torture. 

Fighting between Sudanese forces and rebel groups continue in Sudan’s war-torn peripheries and is marked by serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.

Source:  Human Rights Watch  Action for our Planet



As the successor to his father, Hafez, Bashar al-Assad has continued with his father's brutal rule of Syria.

Despite promises of human rights reform, not much has changed since Bashar al-Assad took office. For nearly a decade, he successfully suppressed internal dissension, due mostly to the close relationship between the Syrian military and intelligence agencies. In 2006, Syria expanded its use of travel bans against dissidents, preventing many from entering or leaving the country. In 2007, the Syrian Parliament passed a law requiring all comments on chat forums to be posted publicly. In 2008, and again in 2011, social media sites such as YouTube and Facebook were blocked. Human rights groups have reported that political opponents of Bashar al-Assad are routinely tortured, imprisoned and killed.

On August 21, 2013, hundreds of civilians, including many children, were killed in a chemical weapons attack on areas near Damascus. A UN investigation determined that the nerve agent sarin was used. While the Syrian government denies responsibility, available evidence strongly suggests that government forces were responsible for the attack.

Source:  Human Rights Watch   Action for our Planet


TIBET (Under Chinese Jurisdiction)

Tibet is governed by a People's Government, led by a Chairman. In practice, however, the Chairman is subordinate to the branch secretary of the Communist Party of China. As a matter of convention, the Chairman has almost always been an ethnic Tibetan, while the party secretary has always been ethnically non-Tibetan.

The Chinese government systematically suppresses political, cultural, religious and socio-economic rights in Tibet in the name of combating what it sees as separatist sentiment. This includes nonviolent advocacy for Tibetan independence, the Dalai Lama’s return, and opposition to government policy.

Arbitrary arrest and imprisonment remain common, and torture and ill-treatment in detention are endemic. Fair trials are precluded by a politicized judiciary overtly tasked with suppressing separatism.

Police systematically suppress any unauthorized gathering. Just recently police opened fire in Nyitso, Dawu prefecture, on a crowd that had gathered in the countryside to celebrate the Dalai Lama’s birthday. Several people were injured. The government censored news of the event.

Source:  Human Rights Watch  Wikipedia



When Turkmenistan’s megalomaniac President Saparmurat Niyazov, who was infamous for creating a cult of personality and renaming the months of the year after members of his family, died in 2006 Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov became acting president. Shortly afterward, in 2007 Berdymukhammedov won a presidential election, widely believed to have been rigged, with 89% of the vote. Since taking power in 2006, the countries president has failed to implement political reform or improve human rights records. Ethnic minorities such as the Baloch community are treated as subordinate second-class citizens.

Turkmenistan remains one of the world’s most repressive countries. The country is virtually closed to independent scrutiny, media and religious freedoms are subject to draconian restrictions, and human rights defenders and other activists face the constant threat of government reprisal. The government continues to use imprisonment as a tool for political retaliation. The release of several political prisoners and the adoption of some new laws that some have hailed as “reform,” have barely dented this stark reality.

Sources : Human Rights Watch   Action for our Planet



Islam Karimov has been the only president of Uzbekistan since the establishment of the office and won three consecutive elections, which many considered to have been rigged. 

Uzbekistan’s human rights record remained abysmal across a wide spectrum of violations. The country is virtually closed to independent scrutiny. Freedom of expression is severely limited. Authorities continue to crack down on rights activists, harass activists living in exile, and persecute those who practice their religion outside strict state controls. Forced labor of adults and children continues.

Torture plagues Uzbekistan’s places of detention, where it is often used to coerce confessions and occurs with impunity. Methods include beating with batons and plastic bottles, hanging by the wrists and ankles, rape, and sexual humiliation.

Human rights defenders face the threat of government reprisal, including imprisonment and torture. Authorities block international rights groups and media from operating in Uzbekistan.

Human Rights Watch received credible reports that some women who have given birth to two or more children have been targeted for involuntary sterilization, especially in rural regions. In some areas, doctors are pressured to perform sterilizations. Lack of access to information and safe medical facilities resulted in many unsafe surgical sterilizations sometimes performed without the consent of the women.

Sources:  Human Rights Watch



The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) is a partially recognized state that claims sovereignty over the entire territory of Western Sahara

Sovereignty over Western Sahara is contested between Morocco and the Polisario Front, and its legal status remains unresolved. The current rulers of the SADR are President Mohamed Abdelaziz and Prime Minister Abdelkader Taleb Oumar

Mohamed Abdelaziz                                 Abdelkader Taleb Oumar

The Western Sahara conflict has resulted in severe human rights abuses, constantly reported by external reporters and HR activists, most notably the displacement of tens of thousands of Sahrawi civilians from the country, the expulsion of tens of thousands of Moroccan civilians by the Algerian government from Algeria, and numerous casualties of war and repression.

Sources:  Human Rights Watch  Wikipedia



Zimbabwe’s ruler, President Robert Mugabe, has been in power since 1980 when he was elected president after rising to prominence in the movement against white-minority rule. Mugabe’s land reform program, which involves the typically violent land seizure of farmland from white Zimbabweans attracts much criticism from foreign governments including the US and UK.

The land seizure program coupled with rising inflation and poverty have caused an economic meltdown in the country where the annual GDP is just $0.1 USD. Zimbabwean police are renowned for oppressing any political dissent and torture is widespread. Every election since Mugabe came to power has been fraught with accusations of ballot box rigging. 

Under the new constitution after elections in 2013, political parties can propagate their views and canvass for support, free of harassment and intimidation. It enshrines respect for the rule of law and commits the government to fully implement and realize the rights to freedom of association, assembly, expression, and information.

Attacks against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals and rights activists continue to emanate from the highest level of government. During his election campaign in July, President Mugabe (who has a long history of making homophobic statements) reiterated that LGBT citizens are “worse than dogs and pigs,” and threatened to behead them. The new constitution does not explicitly recognize LGBT rights, and in his inauguration speech on August 22, 2013, Mugabe attacked same-sex marriage, which the new constitution prohibits, saying it was a “filthy, filthy, filthy disease.”

Sources:  Human Rights Watch  Action for our Planet



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