Religious and Political Tyranny Against Press Freedom

I wonder how many people realized that today, 03 May 2010 was World Press Freedom Day. I remember catching a glance at an article about it in an online journal, over the weekend, but did not bother to investigate, until tonight.

The article that caught my attention referred to an organization which champions press freedom, known as Reporters Without Borders; an organization I had not heard of before. As an ardent advocate of free speech and freedom of the press, I consider myself suitably chastised for my ignorance.

Today they released a list of 40 predators of the press; people and organizations that routinely stifle press freedom by means of censorship, harassment, imprisonment, and even kidnapping, torture and murder of journalists. The most startling feature of this list is that it is made up almost entirely of political and religious leaders. More disturbing however is that one religion in particular features very strongly; in fact almost exclusively.

There are also some interesting demographics, with the Middle East (near and far) having by far the most number of freedom-hating dirt-bags on the list, followed closely behind by Africa. Then comes the Far East and China, Central America, Europe, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Here is the full list, filtered from the Reporters Sans Frontieres website in no order of significance:

Middle Eastern (including former Soviet Union)

  1. Afghanistan – Mullah Mohammad Omar
  2. Saudi Arabia – Abdallah ibn Al-Saud
  3. Azerbaijan – Ilham Aliev
  4. Iran – Ali Khamenei
  5. Iran – Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
  6. Israel – Israel Defence Forces
  7. Kazakhstan – Nursultan Nazarbayev
  8. Uzbekistan – Islam Karimov
  9. Palestinian territories – Armed wing of Hamas
  10. Palestinian territories – The Palestinian Authority’s security forces
  11. Turkmenistan – Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov
  12. Yemen – Ali Abdallah Saleh
  13. Syria – Bashar Al-Assad


  1. Swaziland – King Mswati III
  2. Zimbabwe – Robert Mugabe
  3. Rwanda – Paul Kagame
  4. Equatorial Guinea – Teodoro Obiang Nguema
  5. Nigeria – Ogbonna Onovo
  6. Gambia – Yahya Jammeh
  7. Somalia – Al-Shabaab and Hizb-Al-Islam
  8. Eritrea – Issaias Afeworki
  9. Libya – Muammar Gaddafi
  10. Tunisia – Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali

Far East, China and Sub Continent

  1. Burma – Than Shwe
  2. China – Hu Jintao
  3. North Korea – Kim Jong-il
  4. Laos – Choummaly Sayasone
  5. Nepal – Nepalese armed groups
  6. Philippines – Private militias
  7. Sri Lanka – Gotabhaya Rajapakse
  8. Vietnam – Nong Duc Manh

Central America, Mexico and Caribbean

  1. Colombia – FARC
  2. Colombia – “Black Eagles”
  3. Cuba – Raúl Castro
  4. Mexico – Sinaloa, Gulf and Juárez cartels


  1. Belarus – Alexander Lukashenko
  2. Spain – ETA
  3. Italy – Organized crime
  4. Russia – Ramzan Kadyrov
  5. Russia – Vladimir Putin

So, there you have a collection of truly despicable human beings and organizations. The Reporters Sans Frontieres website has a write-up on each of these stains on humanity, and I advise reading about each one of them.

On a slightly less depressing note, South Africa has tried valiantly to produce a press-fiend in the shape of Julius Malema, but I think he does have some way to go to match this infamous list. He’s more a source of comedy than villainy.