Simon Cowell beaten as harshest judge in new ‘X Factor’ video

Friday, 29 August 2014

James Arthur, Rylan, Alexandra Burke and other emotional contestants contrasted with jailed singers in cliché-busting clip A ubiquitous X Factor cliché gets new meaning in a cheeky and challenging video released by campaign group Free Tibet. The 70-second online video caps clips of nine X Factor contestants - including winners James Arthur, Alexandra Burke and Leon Jackson – emotionally proclaiming that success in the show “means the world” with images of nine young Tibetan singers imprisoned for singing “political” songs that have offended the Chinese authorities occupying Tibet. Free Tibet campaign manager Alistair Currie says: “Some singers have more to fear than bitchy remarks from whoever happens to be sitting behind the blue desk and the harshest judgements musicians face aren’t made by Simon Cowell but by China’s courts, which jail Tibetan singers for years. We understand why X Factor contestants get caught up in the emotional hype and we’re not setting out to mock them but as ‘factor fever’ grips the nation, it’s worth taking a reality check.” Free Tibet’s celebrity-backed campaign focusses on Tibetan singers jailed in the last two years for musical performances seen as threatening the Chinese state. Some are still awaiting trial, others have already been sentenced. Tibetan star Lolo faces six years in prison and 22 year-old Trinley Tsekar was given a nine year sentence in December. Many of the jailed musicians’ songs are simple pop songs but others celebrate Tibetan language and culture and criticise Chinese rule. Many of the singers are famous across Tibet though their CDs and DVDs are often banned by the Chinese authorities. The campaign to release the singers has gained the support of musicians including Iggy Pop and Peter Gabriel, and Ed O’Brien and Thom Yorke of Radiohead. 2011 X Factor finalist Kitty Brucknell – featured in the video – has tweeted her support for the campaign. Alistair Currie adds: “Tibet’s singers don’t get into a bit of trouble for getting drunk, making stupid comments or bad boy posturing – they get in deep trouble for singing from their hearts and for being popular. Our singers may complain about being forced to sing what their mentors tell them to but they know how lucky they are. We hope everyone who watches and appears in the show enjoys it this year but we hope they’ll also remember the bravery and the price paid by the singers of Tibet.” -ends- “Why do singers cry?” can be seen at For more on the singers (including song lyrics and videos) and the campaign see For further information or comment, contact Alistair Currie: E: M: +44 (0)780 165 4011 Notes for editors 1. Kitty Brucknell Tweet 2. Tibet was invaded by China in 1950. According to the US State Department, repression in Tibet is “severe”, the “civil rights of [Tibetans] . . . are strictly curtailed” and other “serious human rights abuses included extrajudicial killings, torture [and] arbitrary arrests” (i). Media, international human rights NGOs and UN human rights institutions are banned from Tibet. International think tank Freedom House has given Tibet a “worst-of-the-worst” freedom rating (ii) while the chair of the US Senate’s foreign relations committee has described it as “one of the most repressed and closed societies in the world” (iii). More than 125 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in protest against Chinese rule since 2011 (iv). (i) US Department of State (2013) Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012: China (ii) Freedom House, 2013 (iii) Senator Robert Menendez, Congressional Record, March 18 2013 (iv) Full list of self-immolations