Political repression is the persecution of an individual or group for political reasons, particularly for the purpose of restricting or preventing their ability to take part in the political life of society.
Political repression is sometimes used synonymously with the term political discrimination (also known as politicism). It often is manifested through discriminatory policies, such as human rights violations, surveillance abuse, police brutality, imprisonment, involuntary settlement, stripping of citizen's rights, lustration and violent action such as the murder, summary executions, torture, forced disappearance and other extrajudicial punishment of political activists, dissidents, or general population.
Where political repression is sanctioned and organised by the state, it may constitute state terrorism, genocide, politicide or crimes against humanity. Systemic and violent political repression is a typical feature of dictatorships, totalitarian states and similar regimes. In such regimes, acts of political repression may be carried out by secret police forces, army, paramilitary groups or death squads. Relevant activities have also been found within democratic contexts as well.
If political repression is not carried out with the approval of the state, a section of government may still be responsible. An example is the FBI COINTELPRO operations in the United States between 1956 and 1971.
In some states, such as the former Soviet Union, "repression" can be an official term and official legal policy of repression with respect to internal political opponents of the state, see Soviet political repression.
Data on human rights violation and state repression
There are currently a wide variety of databases available which attempt to measure, in a rigorous fashion exactly what governments do against those within their territorial jurisdiction. The list below was created and maintained by Prof. Christian Davenport at the Kroc Institute & the University of Notre Dame. These efforts vary with regard to the particular form of human rights violation they are concerned with, the source employed for the data collection as well as the spatial and temporal domain of interest.
- "CIRI Human Rights Data Project, 1981-2006". by Profs David Cingranelli and David Richards
- "Freedom in the World, 1976-2006" by Freedom House
- "Genocide & Politicide, 1955-2005" by Prof. Barbara Harff and the Political Instability Task Force
- "Political Terror Scale, 1976-2006 by Prof. Mark Gibney
- "Worldwide Atrocities Dataset, 1995-2007 by the Political Instability Task Force/KEDS
- "World Freedom Atlas, 1990-2006" - Mapping Program by Prof. Zachary Forest Johnson
- "European Protest and Coercion, 1980-1995" by Prof. Ron Francisco
Selective coverage of state repression
- "The Kansas Event Data System (KEDS)" by Profs. Deborah “Misty” Gerner and Phill Schrodt
- "Intranational Political Interactions Project, 1979-1992" by Profs. David Davis and Will Moore
- "Minorities at Risk, 1945-2006" by the Center for International Development and Conflict Management
Country coverage of state repression
- "Guatemala, 1960-1996" by the International Center for Human Rights Research
- "Kosovo, 1999" by the Human Rights Data Analysis Group - Benetech
- "Rwanda, 1994" by Profs. Christian Davenport and Allan Stam - The Genodynamics Project
- "Sierra Leone, 1991-2000" by the Human Rights Data Analysis Group - Benetech
- "Timor-Leste, 1974-1999" by the Human Rights Data Analysis Group - Benetech
- "United States vs. the Black Panthers, 1967-1973" by Prof. Christian Davenport
- "United States vs. the Republic of New Africa, 1968-1974 by Prof. Christian Davenport
- Amnesty International
- Death squad
- Forced disappearance
- Human rights abuse
- National Committee Against Repressive Legislation
- National security
- Police state
- Political killing
- Preventive repression
- Restrictions on political parties
- Secret police
- Worldwide Governance Indicators
- Understanding Covert Repressive Action: The Case of the U.S. Government against the Republic of New Africa (186kb PDF file) by Christian Davenport, Professor, University of Maryland.
- State Repression and Political Order by Christian Davenport, Professor, University of Maryland.
- Police brutality on 12 years old girl outside her home for no reason Galveston, Texas.
- Davenport, Christian (2007). State Repression and the Domestic Democratic Peace New York: Cambridge University Press.
- Davenport, Christian, Johnston, Hank and Mueller, Carol (2004). Repression and Mobilization Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
- Donner, Frank J. (1980). The Age of Surveillance: The Aims and Methods of America’s Political Intelligence System. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0-394-40298-7
- Donner, Frank J. (1990). Protectors of Privilege: Red Squads and Police Repression in Urban America. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-05951-4
- Goldstein, Robert Justin. (1978). Political Repression in Modern America, From 1870 to Present. Boston, G. K. Hall, Cambridge, MA: Schenkman. ISBN 0-8467-0301-7
- Jensen, Joan M. Army Surveillance in America, 1775 - 1980. New Haven. Yale University Press. 1991. ISBN 0-300-04668-5. Book review retrieved April 3, 2006.
- Talbert, Jr. Roy. Negative Intelligence: The Army and the American Left, 1917 - 1941. Jackson. University Press of Mississippi, 1991. ISBN 0-87805-495-2. Book review retrieved April 3, 2006.
- Irvin, Cynthia L. "Militant Nationalism between movement and party in Ireland and the Basque Country