Exploiting Terrorism as a Pretext for Repression | Freedom House

Exploiting Terrorism as a Pretext for Repression

Venezuela jails opposition political figures as terrorists. Russia and China put critics in psychiatric hospitals.


By Mark P. Lagon and Arch Puddington 

Democracy has been under threat around the world for many years from authoritarian rulers, military leaders and terrorist groups. Last year the pressures intensified significantly.

Vigorous debate over how democracies should respond to terrorism is under way in Europe, Australia and North America. Elsewhere, however, leaders cite the threat as a pretext to silence dissidents, shutter critical media and smother civil society. Thus Venezuela imprisons opposition political figures such as Leopoldo López as terrorists, and China invokes terrorism to support harsh prison sentences against nonviolent Uighur activists. But the exploitation of the terrorist threat is just one aspect of a general trend by repressive regimes toward heavy-handed tactics. Read more here. 


Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

Join us on Facebook and Twitter (freedomhouse). Stay up to date with Freedom House’s latest news and events by signing up for our newsletter.