The country's leaders relentlessly persecuted those who fought against the regime.
They were persecuted for their beliefs.
Origin of PERSECUTE
Middle English, from Middle French persecuter, back-formation from persecuteur persecutor, from Late Latin persecutor, from persequi to persecute, from Latin, to pursue, from per- through + sequi to follow — more at sue
wrong, oppress, persecute, aggrieve mean to injure unjustly or outrageously. wrong implies inflicting injury either unmerited or out of proportion to what one deserves <a penal system that had wronged him>. oppress suggests inhumane imposing of burdens one cannot endure or exacting more than one can perform <a people oppressed by a warmongering tyrant>. persecute implies a relentless and unremitting subjection to annoyance or suffering <a child persecuted by constant criticism>. aggrieve implies suffering caused by an infringement or denial of rights <a legal aid society representing aggrieved minority groups>.