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International Day of Democracy: Taking a look at non-democratic nations

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In the words of 16th U.S. president, Late Abraham Lincoln, democracy is government “of the people, for the people and by the people.”
The Encyclopedia of Britannica defines democracy as “Rule by the people. The term is derived from the Greek dēmokratia, which was coined from dēmos (people) and kratos (rule) in the middle of the 5th century BCE to denote the political systems then existing in some Greek city-states.”
India became free from British colonial rule on 15th August, 1947 and on the 26th of January, 1950, the nation declared itself as a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic state.
Every year, 15th September is observed as ‘The International Day of Democracy’ with the aim of promoting and upholding the principles of democracy and to review the state of democracy in the world.
On The International Day of Democracy 2022, The CSR Journal takes a look at some of the countries which are not governed by a democratic form of government.

North Korea

Even though the formal name is Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, North Korea is one highly centralised totalitarian state. The authoritarian state is currently being ruled by their supreme leader Kim-Jong Un, whose family has been ruling since 1948. The society is repressive with the government imposing severe restrictions on basic rights like freedom of speech and press, freedom of movement and information.
Allegedly, citizens are often victims of forced labor, public execution, extermination, murder, confinement, different kinds of torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortion and sexual harassment and other kinds of violence.
Even though North Korea is one of the poorest countries in the world, it boasts of a large military and allegedly possesses illicit nuclear weapons. The country is also known to launch ballistic missile programs and allegedly responsible for abducting foreign nationals, posing a serious threat to international peace and security.

China

Formally known as the People’s Republic of China, the world’s highest populated country has a one-party communist dictatorship. The Communist Party of China is the ultimate authority and enjoys a monopoly on power since 1949. Xi Jinping is the current president of China. The government controls a major portion of the economy in this world’s biggest communist state.
There are restrictions on citizens like internet and social media censorship, limitation on fundamental human rights including freedom of expression, association, assembly and religion and lack of choice during elections because the opposition parties are considered illegal.

Afghanistan

Around two decades after falling from power due to a US-led military coalition, the fundamentalist Islamic group Taliban (including designated terrorists) regained power in Afghanistan in August 2021. This is the second time they are gaining control over Afghanistan, their first stint in power being between 1996 and 2001.
Ever since they came to power in August last year, the Talibans have also imposed restrictions on girls and women including ordering them to cover fully in burqa, allegedly not allowing them to come to work, banning higher education for women, i.e, successfully keeping them away from public life.
The country is currently experiencing a host of humanitarian crises including poverty, starvation, malnutrition, lack of salary at workplace and an extremely volatile security situation.

Vietnam

Vietnam is a one-party communist state. In this country, the president is the head of state while the government is headed by the prime minister. The government of Vietnam comprises of the following branches— the executive, administered by the president and the government, the legislative or national assembly of Vietnam, and the judiciary or the courts.
Talking about politics and society, the lead role is played by the Communist Party of Vietnam, which is known to suppress several basic rights. The party enjoys a complete monopoly on political power and imposes strict restrictions on basic rights like freedom of speech, opinion, press and religion. The Socialist Republic of Vietnam is currently presided by President Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

United Arab Emirates

Gulf nation United Arab Emirates is a federal, presidential, absolute monarchy. In the UAE government, the top policy-making body Supreme Council of Rulers elects the president, who in turn appoints the prime minister. The Supreme Council enjoys both legislative and executive powers.
The UAE came into existence in December 1971 when six emirates namely Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al-Quwain, and Fujairah formed a federation. In the following year, Ras Al Khaimah joined the alliance.
Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is the ruler of Abu Dhabi, is the current president of UAE. Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum is the vice president, prime minister, and minister of defence of the United Arab Emirates.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia, officially known as The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is a prominent example of a non-democratic country. Saudi Arabia has an absolute monarchy with the government being dominated by the royal family, Al Saud.
The current king, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud or Salman of Saudi Arabia, enjoys the positions of the country’s head of state, leader of the national government as well as the commander-in-chief of the military. In Saudi, the citizens allegedly face discrimination on the basis of gender and race and are subject to inhuman punishments like execution.

Iran

Formally known as the Islamic Republic of Iran (formerly Persia), this middle-eastern country is a unitary Islamic republic with one legislative house. According to the constitution adopted in 1979, Iran has a mixed system of government, in which bodies dominated by the clergy oversee the executive, parliament, and judiciary. The state as well as the oversight authority is headed by a ranking cleric known as the rahbar (leader). Ebrahim Raisi sworn in as Iran’s eighth president in August last year.

Myanmar

On February 1, 2021, a military coup toppled the democratically elected government in Myanmar. General Min Aung Hlaing – commander-in-chief of the Tatmadaw, or military, is currently in power after ousting the elected government. He is supported by his junta or group of military leaders. Soon after taking charge, General Min Aung Hlaing declared emergency, which has been extended till 2023, the announcement being made in August this year. The country’s ousted leader Aung Sung Suu Kyi is currently in solitary confinement.