Report: Tibet among ‘worst of the worst’ for freedom

Tibet, one of the five least free countries in the world
Tibet, one of the five least free countries in the world

28th January 2016

Only Syria received a lower score on Freedom House’s annual survey of freedom in the world

The American human rights and democracy organisation Freedom House published its annual Freedom in the World report (PDF) yesterday. The influential annual study lists Tibet as one of the 12 ‘worst of the worst’ places in the world for political rights and civil liberties.

Freedom House’s study assesses the level of political freedoms and civil liberties for each country in the world, as well as numerous territories. On a scale of 1 to 7, 1 being most free and 7 being least free, Chinese-occupied Tibet scored 7 for both political rights and civil liberties, and an overall ‘Not free’ rating.

Worse than North Korea

The report put the level of repression in Tibet in yet starker terms by awarding each country a score out of 100, based on how they fared across 25 indicators. These indicators included political participation, freedom of the press and individual rights. Tibet scored 1, with only Syria, approaching five years of civil war, ranking lower at -1.

Slightly behind Tibet came Somalia, on 2, and North Korea with 3. By contrast, the United States scored 90, the United Kingdom scored 95, and a few countries including Norway and Sweden, scored a full 100.

China scored 15, and was also listed as being “Not free”. Freedom House criticised China for its “persecution of human rights lawyers, journalists, and minority rights advocates”.

Surveillance, disappearances, torture

This damning assessment of freedom in Tibet will come as no surprise to regular visitors to Free Tibet’s website. Last week a Human Rights Watch report revealed that an extensive surveillance programme deployed by Beijing throughout Tibet, consisting of 21,000 Communist Party officials, police and security forces, had effectively become permanent.

In recent months Free Tibet has reported several arrests and disappearances of Tibetans protesting against the Chinese occupation. Tibetans that were put on trial after carrying out peaceful protests received sentences of several years in prison. Free Tibet also gave evidence of the extensive use of torture in Tibet to the United Nations Committee Against Torture in November last year. The Commiteee released its findings the following month, concluding that the "practice of torture and ill-treatment is still deeply entrenched in the criminal justice system".

Take action for Thardhod Gyaltsen

Chinese-occupied Tibet has some of the harshest restrictions on civil liberties in the world. Take action for Thardhod Gyaltsen, a monk sentenced to 18 years in jail for owning pictures and recordings of the Dalai Lama, prohibited under Chinese rule.