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The least free places on earth

Last updated on: July 9, 2009 

Image: Pupils walk past models of a North Korean Scud-B missile and South Korean missiles at the Korean War Memorial Museum in Seoul.
Photographs: Reuters

North Koreans enjoy the lowest level of freedom in the world, according to Freedom House, a non-profit, nonpartisan organisation, which itself claims to be a voice for democracy and freedom around the world. The Kim Jong Il regime maintains a network of prison camps in which thousands of political prisoners are subjected to brutal conditions, says a report in Foreign Policy Journal, a US-based think tank publication.

Junta's Jeopardy

Image: Mayanmar
Photographs: Mayanmar

Myanmar or Burma: The ruling junta, led by Senior Than Shwe, governs Burma by decree, controlling all branches of power. The junta rejected its defeat in the 1990 elections and has kept pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in prison for most of the past 19 years, says the Foreign Policy Journal.

Somalia's Sorrow

Image: Fighters loyal to Hisbul Islam party take part in a street fight against Somali government forces.
Photographs: Reuters

Somalia is governed by the Ethiopian-backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG), but its actual control is very minimal. There are no effective political parties, and the political process is driven largely by clan loyalty.

China's Chagrin

Image: A truck which was destroyed in Sunday's riot is hoisted in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uigur Autonomous Region.
Photographs: Reuters
China is on the list for its gross human rights violations.

The other countries on the Top 10 list are Equatorial Guinea, Libya, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Chechnya (Russia), Tibet (China).

Cuba's Coterie

Image: A boy walks on a street in Havana.
Photographs: Reuters
Cuba figures on the list because of the human rights violations. Freedom of movement and the right to choose one's residence and place of employment are severely restricted, and attempting to leave the island without permission is a punishable offense, says the article.

Monarch's Mind Games

Image: US President Barack Obama is welcomed to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by King Abdullah
Photographs: Reuters

Saudi Arabia is an authoritarian monarchy in which all political power is held by the royal family. There is no democracy as well, says the report.

The Freedom House status: Not Free

Nepal's Notoriety

Image: A monk adjusts Buddha statuettes at a monastery in Kathmandu
Photographs: Reuters

Nepal is being described as partly free.

Pakistan's Paranoia

Image: Lashkar members guarding a road pose for media in Swat
Photographs: Reuters
Pakistan, struggling with a plethora of problems, is being given partly free status.

Lanka's Loss

Image: Sri Lanka Air Force Hongdu JL-8 jets in action in Colombo.
Photographs: Reuters

The dreaded LTTE chief may be killed, but Sri Lanka has been described as a partly-free status.

Malaysia's Misery

Image: The sun sets near the Petronas Twin Towers (C) and Kuala Lumpur Tower
Photographs: Reuters

This may come as a surprise but a progressive Malaysia has been termed partly-free

Israel's Ire

Image: Israeli F-15 perform during an exhibition
Photographs: Reuters

Again surprisingly, Israel has been termed a free country despite its long-standing wars with the neighbouring countries.

India Ink

Image: A Muslim voter shows her ink-marked finger after casting vote in Uttar Pradesh
Photographs: Reuters

Thanks to a booming democracy and its billion people -- its biggest asset-- India is termed a FREE nation. If anyone needs proof, look back to the recent polls -- the biggest such exercise in the world.