In a world where ‘the freedom to be ourselves’ has become a new motto to life, everyone wants to be their own leader. But even in times like this, there are countries who lack basic human rights, who prevent one’s flight to a clear sky, where everything happens on orders and control of one unquestionable monarch. Democracy is the most popular type of rule because it keeps the people involved at every level and they decide what is and isn’t good for them. Whether one is born in the cruel hands of poverty or in a minority community that often goes neglected, democracy makes sure everyone is kept on the same page and tries to close the gap between rich and the poor. We cannot out rightly say that non-democratic policies always constrain people from living freely, but it is often the case. Have a look at these top 12 countries that have non-democratic governments and decide for yourselves.
Qatar is one the few remained absolute monarchies in the world. Absolute Monarchy is one where one person has an unrestricted political power over a state. Officials have been elected by the people since 1999, but there is quite less participation in these elections, hence making it insignificant and monarchic. The protagonist of the country is its Prime Minister, Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, who is a distant relative of the former Finance and Prime Minister, Hamad Bin Jassim Al Thani. Life in Qatar is mostly tax-free. But you do pay for things like there is a no-shoulder-no-knee rule for women. If you are scantily clad, you will be asked to leave the premises right away. Also, if you want to booze on the weekend, you can count your options on fingers as there are only a few places where alcohol is allowed and a person can only spend 10% of your monthly wage on it (which is kind of good, actually!).
Morocco is a constitutional monarchy, which means that the king has majority of powers but a parliament is democratically elected. After the death of King Hasan II, who was an anarchist, his son Mohamed VI came to power and had a more liberal and democratic vision. Although, in 2014 the freedom of press report marked Morocco as ‘not free’ in terms of Press. In 2011, a widespread protest took place as thousands of Moroccans demanded more powers to be given to the Prime Minister. Following this, constitutional amendments were made and the King handed over more powers to the parliament.
There is no permanent ‘government-type’ in Libya as it keeps going through transitions. Libya got its independence in 1951 and has since not been able to completely form a democracy. In 1969, Col. Gaddafi seized power from King Idris and abolished Monarchy. He directed funds for public healthcare, education and other important fields. Things went smooth in the beginning but later Gaddafi started showing his true colours. In 2011, when a civil war broke against the Gaddafi government as the masses were unsatisfied by heavy corruption and privatization, he was executed. Now even after the fall of Gaddafi government, Libya has almost failed to form anything yet and keeps going through temporary phases and is officially said to have a ‘transitioning government’.
After thousand years of tyranny, Iraq has formed a federal parliamentary republic. Federal republic means there is a multiple party system and the Prime Minister holds most of the powers of government. The President and Prime Minister wields executive powers, whereas legislative powers are exercised by the federal council. Human rights in Iraq have never been appreciable. While under the rule of President Saddam Hussain, there were serious questions on human rights as mass murders, rape and torture were some of the governments methods of maintaining ‘control’ over the citizens. Saddam’s rule ended in 2006 after his execution as a capital punishment, but even after that Iraq is still ‘bleeding’ as it is constantly struggling with Al-Qaeda’s wrath.
Cuba is a communist state and all the powers belong to the wealthy group of the country. Human rights violation is very common in Cuba as citizens are considered slaves to the aristocrats. This group of wealthy people is responsible for making all the decisions for the country and they often are not in favour of general public.
07. United Kingdom:
United Kingdom has constitutional monarchy. Constitutional monarchy is one where Queen or King is the head of state and works with an elected parliament. A constitution controls the power of the monarch and thus he cannot posses unquestionable authority. The head of parliament is Prime Minister and he appoints rest of the ministers. Here, the government is called a ‘responsible government’ as all the political decisions are taken by government and parliament and not the monarch. The current Prime Minister of UK is David Cameron and the monarch is Queen Elizabeth II. Freedom of speech, expression and other human rights are fully entertained by the nation.
Turkmenistan is a democratic country on papers but the inside stories tell an entirely different tale. The government’s representatives do not act in public interest. It is popularly known as an autocratic-democracy. Most of its population is impoverished. It is called one of the most repressive countries in the world by Human rights watch as the President and his family maintains an unlimited control over the citizens. The government denies any freedom to association, expression and even religion! The government often forces people do to something or attend an event and does not even permit them to leave for hours even for toilet. Journalists, non government organisations constantly receive threats from the government. All print and electronic media is under the control of state, internet is heavily constrained and extremely expensive, which automatically makes it inaccessible.
China is the biggest communist state. It is run by a single party called the Communist Party of China. They have a tightened control over its population as they do not want China to be influenced by western ideologies. China is popularly known for blocking world’s top rated websites like Google, Facebook, Twitter and many others. Freedom of expression is non-existent in China. If anything ‘secret’ is sent over the internet, it is considered a criminal offence and the person is jailed for two-four years.
Jordan is a constitutional monarchic nation that joins Europe, Asia and Africa. The Monarch is the head of state, the the cheif-executive and the commander-in-cheif of the armed forces. The right to veto resides with the King who can override two-third of majority of government. The cabinet is responsible to the matters of general policy. Jordan restricts freedom of expression and speech as many individuals are prosecuted for ‘insulting an official body’ or speaking against the King.
Vietnam is a single-party communists state where President is the head of state and Prime Minister is the head of government. The Judiciary is independent of the executive. Vietnam actively suppresses any religious rights and the only party that rules the country has a complete monopoly on political power. Many activists are faultily convicted in the state for speaking against the government leaving very less freedom of expression, opinion and press.
02. North Korea:
North Korea was earlier a communist state, but all the communist references were removed from the constitution in 2009. On papers, it is a democratic republic today, and government is elected by a secret ballot. Sadly, the truth is far from this. What happens is that there are only single-candidate races and any person who wants to vote against that candidate has to go to another private booth to do so, which is very risky! So, North Korea is basically run under a dictatorship. Talking about human rights, there are a number of rape cases against high officials but such news is always covered up and sometimes even bragged. There is no freedom of expression and everything runs on the wishes of Kim Jong-un, the supreme leader of North Korea.
01. Saudi Arabia:
There is absolute monarchy in Saudi Arabia as the King of Saudi Arabia makes all the decisions for the state. The government is based on Islamic law and is dominated by the royal family. There is no legally bounded constitution in Saudi and Quran and Sunnah remain the guiding books. Torture and ill treatments are very common and the judicial punishments are unbelievably inhuman. If a person is charged with robbery, his hands and feet are amputated. Living conditions are not good as there is no freedom of expression and women’s rights are non-existent.
Democratic or non-democratic, the first and foremost agenda of any kind of government should be keeping a check on basic human rights. A country cannot prosper its people aren’t happy. No matter how much we complain about our living conditions, if we’re living in a democratic country, and are enjoying the liberty to be ourselves, we shouldn’t take it for granted.