1. Isaias Afewerki, President of Eritrea
Assumed office: 4/27/91
Afewerki has not set up any formal constitution to protect the rights of his people, and yet two-thirds of his nation is reportedly malnourished. Every male at 18 must enter military service for an indefinite period of time, unless they prefer to be imprisoned or killed. According to one WikiLeaks cable, the U.S. ambassador called the Eritrea dictator “unhinged, cruel, and defiant.”
2. Bashar al-Assad, President of Syria
Assumed office: 6/20/2000
Assad succeeded his father Hafez’s 29-year reign with 97 percent of the nation’s vote but without publicly disclosing voter statistics. His security forces continue to arrest citizens without warrants and torture them under a “no freedom, no rights” policy. He is responsible for approximately 3,000 civilian lives since the recent Arab Spring demonstrations have begun on Syrian ground.
3. Omar al-Bashir, President of Sudan
Assumed office: 10/16/93
Bashir has an outstanding arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court for war crimes in Darfur and killing up to 400,000 civilians to date. It is also said that Sudan hosted pre-9/11 training grounds for Osama bin Laden to train members of al-Qaeda. Bashir’s security officials continue to arrest, sexually abuse, and torture demonstrators active in the Arab Spring protests.
4. Meles Zanawi Asres, Prime Minister of Ethiopia
Assumed office: 8/23/95
The Ethiopian P.M. is responsible for losing tens of thousands of civilian lives through what is often thought of as a pointless conflict with the state of Eritrea. He also had his forces massacre 193 civilians who protested during his disputed 2005 reelection.
5. Islam Karimov, President of Uzbekistan
Assumed office: 3/24/90
Uzbekistan’s torture has been described by the United Nations as “systematic.” In 2005, Karimov’s regime shot several hundred civilians on site who were protesting the arrests of 23 local businessmen. That very day, the government issued a statement that 9 people were killed and 34 sustained injuries during a “clash.” Reporters Without Borders characterizes Karimov as one of the world’s “Predators of Press Freedom, breaking his own records for repression and paranoia.”
6. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, President of Equatorial Guinea
Assumed office: 8/3/79
Nguema staged a coup to take over Equatorial Guinea, a.k.a. “the Auschwitz of Africa,” from his very own uncle Francisco Macias Nguema. Since, Nguema has maintained a reputation as a murdering and a cannibalizing his own people for 30-plus years as he reels in billions of dollars from oil exports.
7. Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe
Assumed office: 12/31/87
Mugabe continues his 24-year reign through means of election rigging, media control, and the threat of starvation. Barry Bearak, a “New York Times” journalist who had been imprisoned in the state’s capital in 2008, reported that “power had flourished through methodical cruelty, including the murder of thousands of people … as he and cronies then acquired lavish mansions and enormous bank accounts.”
8. Yoweri Museveni, President of Uganda
Assumed office: 1/26/86
In 2005, the International Criminal Court oversaw a case accusing Uganda of invading Congo and massacring its civilians. Museveni has roundly defended his actions as a means to keep peace, but, according to Human Rights Watch, “the Ugandan police Rapid Response Unit frequently operates outside the law, carrying out torture, extortion, and in some cases, extrajudicial killings.”