Report: Tibet remains among the least free places in the world

Monks dragged away from their monastery by police in 2008
Monks dragged away from their monastery by police in 2008
17th January 2018

Once more Tibet ranks as the second lowest for freedom in Freedom House’s annual worldwide survey

The annual review by the organisation Freedom House has once again seen Tibet ranked as the second least free place in the world.

Just as in 2016 and 2017, only Syria was found to have fewer civil rights and political freedoms than Tibet.

In its report, Freedom House uses a variety of categories to grade every country in the world, along with a number of other occupied or contested countries and territories. Occupied Tibet was given a score of 1/100.

On a separate 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, receiving an overall ‘not free’ rating.

One place above Tibet in the rankings is South Sudan, which like Syria has been the scene of a civil war for several years. Eritrea and North Korea, two of the most closed and repressive regimes in the world, complete the bottom five, each with 3/100. By contrast. Finland, Norway and Sweden all scored a perfect 100.

Freeedom House 2018 Bottom Ten

Democracy in Crisis

Entitled “Democracy in Crisis”, the latest Freedom in the World Report depicts a generally worsening situation worldwide, with a few gains but more losses for the spread of democracy, noting that 2018 has been the “12th consecutive year of decline in global freedom”.

Among those countries found to have declined in freedom was China, which received a grade of 14/100 after its civil liberties and political rights were assessed.

China, which is consistently rated as ‘not free’ in Freedom House’ reports, was found to have become “increasingly repressive in recent years”, with the Chinese Communist Party "tightening its control over the media, online speech, religious groups, and civil society associations while undermining already modest rule-of-law reforms."

The report noted that President Xi Jinping had also concentrated his personal power to a degree not seen in China in decades. The report also noted the heavy security restrictions and clampdowns on the internet and media in the lead up the CCP’s 19th Party Congress in October. Free Tibet covered these measures and their effects on Tibetans in October last year.

In its overview, the report painted a picture of democracy “under assault and in retreat globally", with the rise of populist and xenophobic political parties throughout Europe and an “erosion of America’s own democratic standards” in recent years, including “acute pressure” on the media and judiciary under President Trump.

The report warns that, at the same time that some of the world's most influential democratic regimes have faltered, autocracies such as China have become more repressive internally and bolder in their foreign policies, “export[ing] their malign influence to other countries”.

Take action

In Tibet the CCP oversees what some have called the world's largest open air prison. The authorities have the power to switch the light on and off, peering into Tibetans' emails one moment and making political prisoners vanish from their families and friends, apparently into darkness, the next. Help us push for Tibet's hidden political prisoners to be found and released.