#16 – Slobodan Milosevic (1992-1995)
In the opening months of the war 100,000 or more people are killed and up to three million are dispossessed. An estimated 20,000 Muslim women and girls are thrown into rape camps. Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital, is placed under siege, with Serbian artillery positioned in the surrounding hills bombing the city’s streets and marketplaces while Serbian snipers target the unlucky and unwary. 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.
#15 – Harry S. Truman (1945)
On 25 July President Truman authorises the use of atomic bombs against the Japanese. The order to use the bomb states that the “Air Force will deliver its first special bomb as soon as weather will permit visual bombing after about 3 August 1945 on one of the targets: Hiroshima, Kokura, Niigata and Nagasaki. … Additional bombs will be delivered on the above targets as soon as made ready by the project staff. Further instructions will be issued concerning targets other than those listed above.”
The first bomb is dropped on Hiroshima on 6 August. A second bomb is dropped on Nagasaki on 9 August. The bombs kill about 120,000 people outright and fatally injure over 100,000 more. Japanese Emperor Hirohito surrenders unconditionally on 14 August 1945, ending the Second World War.
#14 – Genghis Khan (1206-1227)
Genghis Khan’s waging of war was characterized by wholesale destruction on unprecedented scale and radically changed the demographic situation in Asia. According to the works of Iranian historian Rashid-ad-Din Fadl Allah, Mongols massacred over 700,000 people in Merv and more than a million in Nishapur. China suffered a drastic decline in population as a direct result of the Khan: before the Mongol invasion, China had about 100 million inhabitants; after the complete conquest, 1279, the census in 1300 showed it to have roughly 60 million people. This does not, of course, mean that Genghis Khan’s men were directly responsible for the deaths of 40 million people, but it does give a sense of the ferocity of the onslaught.
#13 – Benito Mussolini (Ethiopia, 1936; Yugoslavia, WWII)
Over 400,000 Italians killed during the Second World War. At least 30,000 Ethiopians killed during Italian occupation of Ethiopia.
#12 – Idi Amin (Uganda, 1969-1979)
To secure his regime Amin launches a campaign of persecution against rival tribes and Obote supporters, murdering between 100,000 and 500,000 (most sources say 300,000). Among those to die are ordinary citizens, former and serving Cabinet ministers, the chief justice, Supreme Court judges, diplomats, academics, educators, prominent Roman Catholic and Anglican clergy, senior bureaucrats, medical practitioners, bankers, tribal leaders, business executives, journalists and a number of foreigners. In some cases entire villages are wiped out. So many corpses are thrown into the Nile that workers at one location have to continuously fish them out to stop the intake ducts at a nearby dam from becoming clogged.
#11 – Saddam Hussein (Iran 1980-1990 and Kurdistan 1987-88)
Approaching two million, including between 150,000 and 340,000 Iraqi and between 450,000 and 730,000 Iranian combatants killed during the Iran-Iraq War. An estimated 1,000 Kuwaiti nationals killed following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. No conclusive figures for the number of Iraqis killed during the Gulf War, with estimates varying from as few as 1,500 to as many as 200,000. Over 100,000 Kurds killed or “disappeared”. No reliable figures for the number of Iraqi dissidents and Shia Muslims killed during Hussein’s reign, though estimates put the figure between 60,000 and 150,000. (Mass graves discovered following the US occupation of Iraq in 2003 suggest that the total combined figure for Kurds, Shias and dissidents killed could be as high as 300,000). Approximately 500,000 Iraqi children dead because of international trade sanctions introduced following the Gulf War.
#10 – Suharto (East Timor, West Papua, Communists, 1966-98)
Up to two million killed following an alleged coup attempt in 1965 (most reports estimate the number at around 500,000). The killings have been on such a scale that the disposal of the corpses has created a serious sanitation problem in East Java and northern Sumatra, where the humid air bears the reek of decaying flesh. Travellers from those areas tell of small rivers and streams that have been literally clogged with bodies. Over 250,000 deaths following the invasion of East Timor in 1975. Thousands more killed in various Indonesian provinces.
#9 – Jean Kambanda (Rwanda, 1994)
The Rwandan Genocide was the 1994 mass killing of hundreds of thousands of Rwanda’s minority Tutsis and the moderates of its Hutu majority. Over the course of approximately 100 days, from the assassination of Juvénal Habyarimana on April 6th through to mid July, at least 500,000 people were killed. Most estimates are of a death toll between 800,000 and 1,000,000. Jean Kambanda (born October 19, 1955) was the Prime Minister in the caretaker government of Rwanda from the start of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide.
#8 – Leonid Brezhnev (Afghanistan, 1979-1982)
Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev was General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (and thus political leader of the USSR) during The Soviet war in Afghanistan, also known as the Soviet-Afghan War or just the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan. Over 1 million Afghans were killed. 5 million Afghans fled to Pakistan and Iran, 1/3 of the prewar population of the country. Another 2 million Afghans were displaced within the country. In the 1980s, one out of two refugees in the world was an Afghan. Along with fatalities were 1.2 million Afghans disabled (mujahideen, government soldiers and noncombatants) and 3 million maimed or wounded (primarily noncombatants).
#7 – Mengistu (Ethiopia, 1974-1991)
From 1974 to 1991, Mengistu’s “Dergue” regime was responsible for human rights violations on a massive scale. Tens of thousands of Ethiopians were tortured, murdered or “disappeared.” Tens of thousands of people were also killed as a result of humanitarian law violations committed during Ethiopia’s many internal armed conflicts. Many others, perhaps more than 100,000, died as a result of forced relocations ordered by the Mengistu regime. Some experts believe hundreds of thousands of university students, intellectuals and politicians (including Emperor Haile Selassie) were killed during Mengistu’s rule. These violations are documented in Human Rights Watch’s 1991 book- length report Evil Days: 30 Years of War and Famine in Ethiopia.
#6 – Kim Il Sung (North Korea, 1948-1994)
About three million killed in the Korean War. Between 600,000 and one million North Koreans needlessly starved to death due to the economic legacy of Kim’s regime. (Some reports claim that as many as three million starved.)
#5 – Pol Pot (Cambodia, 1975-1979)
Pol Pot declares ‘Year Zero’ and directs a ruthless program to “purify” Cambodian society of capitalism, Western culture, religion and all foreign influences in favour of an isolated and totally self-sufficient Maoist agrarian state. No opposition is tolerated. Towns and cities are emptied and their former inhabitants are deemed “April 17th people” or “new people”. The country’s entire population is forced to relocate to agricultural collectives, the so-called “killing fields”. An estimated 1.5 million are worked or starved to death, die of disease or exposure, or are summarily executed for infringements of camp discipline. Infringements punishable by death include not working hard enough, complaining about living conditions, collecting or stealing food for personal consumption, wearing jewellery, engaging in sexual relations, grieving over the loss of relatives or friends and expressing religious sentiments.
#4 – Hideki Tojo (Japan, 1941-1944)
Tojo is often considered responsible for the murder of more than 8 million civilians in China, Korea, Philippines, Indochina, and in the other Pacific island nations, as well as the murder of tens of thousands of Allied POWs and for the approval of government-sanctioned biological experiments on POWs and Chinese civilians . There is some controversy over the extent of his responsibility, as he often claimed to be working on the orders of Emperor Hirohito, who was granted immunity from war crimes prosecution. As a result, some believe that Tojo and many other convicted war criminals ultimately became martyrs for the Emperor.
#3 – Adolf Hitler (Germany, 1939-1945)
Adolf Hitler (20 April 1889 – 30 April 1945) was an Austrian-born politician who led the National Socialist German Workers Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei NSDAP), the Nazi Party. He was Chancellor of Germany (1933–1945) and Führer und Reichskanzler of Germany (1934–1945). Hitler’s bid for territorial conquest and racial subjugation caused the deaths of 43 million people, including the systematic genocide of an estimated six million Jews as well as various additional “undesirable” populations in what is known as the Holocaust.
#2 – Joseph Stalin (USSR, 1934-1939)
Approximately 20 million, including up to 14.5 million needlessly starved to death. At least one million executed for political “offences”. At least 9.5 million more deported, exiled or imprisoned in work camps, with many of the estimated five million sent to the ‘Gulag Archipelago’ never returning alive. Other estimates place the number of deported at 28 million, including 18 million sent to the ‘Gulag’.
#1 – Mao Ze-Dong (China, 1958-1961 and 1966-1969)
Mao Zedong was the leader of the Chinese Communist Party from 1935 until his death in 1976. Chairman Mao, as he became known to generations of admiring Western leftists, is arguably the greatest mass murderer in history, eclipsing even the murderous Joseph Stalin in this regard. Some 70 million Chinese, along with countless Tibetans, Mongolians, Manchus, Koreans, Hmong, Uyghurs, and other nationalities, perished at his hands during his long and brutal reign.