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In PHOTOS: World's most notorious dictators

Last updated on: October 21, 2011 14:03 IST

In PHOTOS: World's most notorious dictators

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Rediff.com takes a look at some of the most brutal and oppressive tyrants on the planet

Muammar Gaddafi
Country: Libya
Tenure: 1969-2011

Notorious for: The Libyan leader's name has always featured in most of the 'terrorist attacks' that have affected the West. The 1986 Berlin Discotheque bombing, the 1988 bombing of the Pan-Am Jet over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, the 1984 killing of a British Police woman in London, the Rome and Vienna airport attacks of 1985, etc.

He imposed laws based on the political ideology he had formulated, called the Third International Theory and published in The Green Book (it rejected modern liberal democracy, free press, and capitalism)

Gaddafi supplied weapons to the Provisional Irish Republican Army, a listed terrorist organisation in the United Kingdom and other countries

According to the International Criminal Court, at the start of the revolution in Libya, he orrdered his security forces to open fire at unarmed peaceful protesters, use rape as well as 'systemic arrests, torture, killings, deportations, enforced disappearances and destruction of mosques' as a weapon.

How he died: Shot dead by revolutionaries

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Saddam Hussein
Country: Iraq
Tenure: 1979-2006

Notorious for: During an uprising in 1993, America supported the opponents of Saddam, but then deliberately left them to be killed by Saddam; 250,000 people were killed. The absence of Saddam would have meant that there would be no excuse for America to remain in the Gulf

He is believed to have used chemical weapons against Iran and against his own people while he was getting support from America.

How he was died: Overthrown, tried and executed


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Laurent Kabila
Country: Congo DR
Tenure: 1997-2001

Notorious for: He took control of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1997 after a bloody war in which his supporters and Rwandan and Ugandan allies killed tens of thousands of civilians. In a second civil war, Kabila's forces, like those of Rwanda, Uganda, and the Congolese rebels allied with them, engaged in indiscriminate attacks on civilians, extrajudicial executions, rape, and destruction of property, with the result of massive displacement of population.

During his nearly four years in power, Kabila regularly and ruthlessly violated the human rights of the Congolese people, killing, torturing, imprisoning, and causing the "disappearance" of any who he thought threatened him or his regime.

In 1997 the UN Secretary-General sent a team to investigate war crimes committed by all parties during the first Congo war. Kabila blocked their work, but the investigators returned with enough information to conclude that combatants in the first Congo war had committed crimes against humanity and perhaps genocide.

How he died: Shot by one of his bodyguards, Rashidi Kasereka. Died in a hospital in Zimbabwe

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Idi Amin
Country: Uganda
Tenure: 1971-1979

Notorious for: Amin's rule was characterised by gross human rights abuse, political repression, ethnic persecution, extrajudicial killings, nepotism, corruption, and gross economic mismanagement. The number of people killed as a result of his regime is estimated by international observers and human rights groups to range from 100,000 to 500,000.

Despite international outcry, in November 1995 the Nigerian government hanged writer and dissident Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others. Saro-Wiwa, a member of the Ogoni ethnic group of southern Nigeria whose Niger River delta land has long been exploited for its oil deposits, had brought the plight of the Ogonis to the attention of the international media.

How he died: Died at King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, from kidney failure

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Pol Pot
Country: Combodia
Tenure: 1963 – 1998

Notorious for: He acknowledged having massacred the defeated Lon Nol government's leaders and troops, defending his actions by insisting that "this strata of the imperialists had to be totally destroyed."

Ethnic Vietnamese, ethnic Thai, ethnic Chinese (except for those already prominent among the Khmer Rouge themselves), ethnic Chams (Muslim Cambodians), Cambodian Christians, and the Buddhist monkhood were the demographic targets of persecution. As a result, Pol Pot was sometimes described as 'the Hitler of Cambodia'.

Following their leader Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge imposed an extreme form of social engineering on Cambodian society -- a radical form of agrarian communism where the whole population had to work in collective farms or forced labour projects. In terms of the number of people killed as a proportion of the population (estimated 7.1 million people, as of 1975), it was the most lethal regime of the 20th century.

How he died: Reportedly cardiac arrest

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Zia-ul-Haq
Country: Pakistan
Tenure: 1977-1988

Notorious for: His reign is often regarded as a period of mass military repression in which hundreds of thousands of political rivals, minorities, and journalist were executed or tortured, including Pakistan Army's senior general officers convicted in coup d'etat plots against his regime.

General Zia authorised secret funding and expansion of intelligence operations in Pakistan and abroad, initially focusing on anti-communist operations. He was described by some as a "fundamentalist Sunni dictator"

Zia handpicked a dummy Prime Minister to show the world that he is restoring democracy. Muhammad Khan Junejo who could not breath without the General's permission was sacked in 1988.

He imposed his policies in the name of Islamisation to get support from religious schools. This Islamisation was directly imported from Washington and was based on violence for serving American interest in the name of Islam and Jihad in Afghanistan.

How he died: Plane crash

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Slobodan Milosevic
Country: Serbia and Yugoslavia
Tenure: 1989-1997

Notorious for: In 1992, with Milosevic's backing and the aid of Yugoslav Army troops, Bosnian-Serb militias led by Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic forcibly seized territory, taking control of two-thirds of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The conflict soon spills into Croatia.

As the war escalates the Bosnian-Serb militias attempt to expel Bosnia's Muslim and Croat population from the Serb-held territories in an orchestrated program of "ethnic cleansing."

Muslims and Croats are either forced into exile as refugees, held as hostages for use in prisoner exchanges, or placed in concentration camps. Many are summarily executed. An estimated 20,000 Muslim women and girls are thrown into rape camps.

In 1995, Bosnian-Serb militias aided by Yugoslav Army troops take the UN "safe area" of Srebrenica in July. Over 40,000 Bosnian-Muslims who had sought safety there are expelled. Between 5,000 and 8,000 are executed, allegedly on the order of Ratko Mladic. The war in Bosnia-Herzegovina cost up to 200,000 lives. As many as three million were driven from their homes and tens of thousands were missing.

How he died: Found dead in his cell on March 11, 2006, in the UN war crimes tribunal's detention centre, located in the Scheveningen section of The Hague, Netherlands

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Saparmurat Atayevich Niyazov
Country: Turkmenistan
Tenure: 1990-2006

Notorious for: President Niyazov became a substitute for the vacuum left by the downfall of the communist system, with his image replacing those of Marx and Lenin. He renamed the town of Krasnovodsk "Turkmenbashi" after himself, and renamed schools, airports and even a meteorite after himself and members of his family. His many, sometimes erratic decrees, and the doting actions of the official Turkmen media gave rise to the clear appearance of a "cult of personality."

Niyazov tolerated no dissent, and there is no political opposition and free media. Many opponents fled abroad to highlight the abuses.

How he died: Cardiac arrest

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Adolf Hitler
Country: Germany
Tenure: 1934 to 1945

Notorious for: Once in the saddle, Hitler moved with great speed to outmanoeuvre his rivals, virtually ousting the conservatives from any real participation in government by July 1933, abolishing the free trade unions, eliminating the communists, Social Democrats and Jews from any role in political life and sweeping opponents into concentration camps.

Hitler ordered the annexation of Austria and the Sudetenland in 1938. Hitler's army invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, sparking France and England to declare war on Germany. A Blitzkrieg (lightning war) of German tanks and infantry swept through most of Western Europe as nation after nation fell to the German war machine.

In 1941, Hitler ignored a non-aggression pact he had signed with the Soviet Union in August 1939. Several early victories after the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, were reversed with crushing defeats at Moscow (December 1941) and Stalingrad (winter, 1942-43). The United States entered the war in December 1941. By 1944, the Allies invaded occupied Europe at Normandy Beach on the French coast, German cities were being destroyed by bombing, and Italy, Germany's major ally under the leadership of Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, had fallen.

By 1945, an estimated 2,000,000 persons, including 1,500,000 Jews, were murdered at the Auschwitz concentration camp.

How he died: Committed suicide

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Benito Andrea Amilcare Mussolini
Country: Italy
Tenure: 1925-1945

Notorious for: During the second Italo-Abyssinian war, Italian troops commited atrocites such as the use of mustard gas, the bombing of Red Cross hospitals and ambulances, the execution of captured prisoners without trial, the Graziani massacre, the killings at Dabra Libanos monastery, and the shooting of 'witch-doctors' accused of prophesying the end of fascist rule.

During the Italian occupation of Yugoslavia in WWII, Italian troops used draconian measures to intimidate the native Slavic population into silence, such as summary executions, hostage-taking, reprisals, internments and the burning of houses and villages.

How he died: Captured at the end of the Second World War. He and his mistress were shot and hanged upside down



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