Running a nation is hard work, perhaps the hardest and most stressful. Every decision rests with the men and women in charge. You have to provide for the citizens under your care, from Healthcare and education to law enforcement and public works. Balancing budgets and meeting economic deadlines, it's time and energy consuming. Yet once in a blue moon, certain pariah governments say "the hell with the people" and pursue their own course of censorship, false imprisonment, forced labor, and the outright murder of their own citizens. These regimes aren't X-Men like mutants, where you can easily recognize them as different from the rest. They aren't exclusive to a certain corner of the globe, or to a certain race, nationality or faith. On the surface, some even appear shockingly normal. What brews below the surface though, away from the eyes of tourists is anything but.
Zimbabwe. The name of a nation that every child likes to pronounce. And why not? It has an exotic sound to it. It also has a 90 year old dictator at the helm, who looks as if he will never go away. The name of this fellow is of course Robert Mugabe. Ironically Mugabe started on the right side of history. He led the black majority population in an uprising against the racist lesser known apartheid state of Rhodesia, as Zimbabwe was once called. After some fourteen years of a grinding insurgency and a significantly higher casualty rate than that of the much better armed, trained and equipped white government soldiers, Mugabe's front won, and black majority rule was established in 1980. With Mugabe at the helm, the new nation of Zimbabwe kept its promise of retaining an inclusive government. Gradually though, the standard of living for the citizens of Zimbabwe started to decline as Mugabe took an increasingly authoritarian stance on opposition and an even more erratic economic policy of unsustainable land re-distribution. The results were disastrous. While Rhodesia was once known as the "breadbasket of Africa" on account of its export surplus of food, today Zimbabweans are faced with the reality of empty supermarket shelves, near or on subsistence levels of farming, and out of control hyperinflation. Zimbabwe is tragically a story of reverse dictatorship. Starting out as a democracy and slowly degenerating into a cliche one man rule fiefdom. Truly a bitter pill to swallow for the many Zimbabweans whose hopes and dreams were crushed.
3 Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia, along with its oil and gas rich neighbors has been a strategic piece of real estate that many a powerful nation, be it the British, Soviets or Americans have tried to woo and cajole into an alliance. The latter was the most successful in establishing such a bond. The modern day nation of Saudi Arabia came into existence in 1932, under the absolute monarchy of Ibn-Al Saud, hence the name. Since then it has been an absolute monarchy where the ruling Royal family has crushed any kind of dissident opposition to their rule. The nation is host to two of the holiest sites in Islam, Mecca and Medina, and the Royal family adopts the title as guardian or custodian of such sites. The nation itself adheres to the fundamentalist doctrine of Wahabbism, a more austere and fundamentalist interpretation of Islam, making it susceptible to supporting puritanical groups like Al-Qaeda. With the backing of hard line conservative clerics (which it needs to prop up its rule) the ruling Royal family goes about oppressing its citizens with near medieval zeal, particularly women. In Saudi Arabia women are not allowed to vote, drive, run for public office (as if that wasn't obvious with the no voting allowed law), and their testimony is worth half that of a man's in court. These are but a few of the restrictions placed upon women in Saudi Arabia, among many enforced by the Mutaween or religious police. Others include forced sex segregation in public, the mandatory wearing of a veil, forced marriages, and the escort by a male relative wherever they go. Thus making the Saudi regime one of the most repressive governments in our global community.
1 North Korea