Global press freedom fell in 2016 to the lowest level in thirteen years. This is mainly due to new threats on journalists in democratic countries and oppression of independent media in authoritarian countries. Based on the Freedom of the Press report 2017, we are proud to present the battle of the greatest oppressor. With categories like exclusion, propaganda and manipulation it was a though battle. Who are the greatest oppressors?
The title of The Greatest Oppressor 2016 goes to...
"I jailed those who reported on worsening economic conditions in my beautiful country." - Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, President of Turkmenistan
Global ranking: 198
It was a though battle. The second finalist was...
"Anyone who ignores my rules, will get harsh punishments, or the death penalty." - Kim Jong-Un, President of North Korea
But Turkmenistan and North Korea are not the only oppressors in the world... There are some great runners-up!
"I just keep leveraging pro-Kremlin reporting around the world. And nobody can stop me :)..." - Vladimir Putin, President of Russia
Vladimir Putin’s regime in Russia has been a trailblazer in globalizing state propaganda. It continues to leverage pro-Kremlin reporting around the world, particularly in neighboring countries with Russianspeaking populations. Rebroadcasts of statecontrolled Russian television programming, alongside the made-to-export content of the state-owned outlets RT and Sputnik, fuel distortion campaigns in much of the former Soviet space, warping perceptions of current and historical events and funneling trust away from domestic authorities. In a tense security environment, the region’s beleaguered democratic governments have mostly reacted with kneejerk restrictions, curbing the operations of or access to a number of Russian outlets. These tensions are most pronounced in Ukraine, where the Kremlin’s propaganda drive—aimed at controlling the narratives on Crimea and Donbas as well as perceptions of Russia and the West—is attempting to undermine the country’s sovereignty and the legitimacy of its institutions.
"I restricted journalists' freedom and suppressed those who criticized me." - Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, President of Egypt
As the country’s security and economic crises intensify, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s regime is attempting to assert more direct control over the private media and suppress criticism of the government’s performance.
"If I don't like what you are writing, I'll just put you in jail..." - Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of Turkey
Press freedom in Turkey declined due to multiple repressive measures following the July coup attempt, including increased censorship, closures of critical and independent media outlets, mass cancelation of journalists’ licenses, and a sharp rise in arbitrary detentions of and violence against journalists.
"Members of the media faced increased threats and attacks in Zimbabwe". (Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe).
In Zimbabwe, the ruling party sought to shut down reporting on a new popular protest movement, with police beating and arresting those who covered the demonstrations. And in Zambia, the ruling Patriotic Front interfered with critical coverage both before and after August general elections, arresting journalists on spurious charges that were frequently dropped once the case reached the courts.
Global ranking: 161
And let's not forget the United States and the Netherlands, who are trying really hard to compete in the battle of the greatest oppressor.
"You are all dishonest purveyors of 'fake news'. You are enemies of the people..." (Donald Trump, President of the United States)
President Donald Trump has shown contempt for the media and an apparent disregard for the country’s press freedom traditions, but it remains unclear whether he will attempt to impose systematic restrictions on journalists.
"I arranged that journalists in the Netherlands are not protected from surveillance." (Mark Rutte, President of the Netherlands)
In the Netherlands, anti-immigration politician Geert Wilders openly emulated Donald Trump’s strategy of bypassing mainstream media and disseminating his inflammatory views to the public via Twitter.
Global ranking: 2
Watch The Greatest Oppressor 2016 below:
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