Tibet second only to Syria for lack of freedom

[5 February 2016] Tibet has been ranked as the second worst place for freedom and human rights in 2015. According to US-based NGO Freedom House, only Syria had a worse ranking on overall freedom than Tibet in the past year. Countries with notoriously poor human rights records, such as North Korea, Somalia and Saudi Arabia, fared better than Tibet.

Freedom House logoFreedom House’s annual report, issued at the end of January, ranked 209 countries and regions. China was ranked as the 21st worst country, based on a system rating civil liberties, political rights and overall freedom.

Apart from its ranking, Tibet was only referred to sparingly in the report. Resettlement projects in Tibet, Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang were criticised for China’s attempts to alter regional demographics. Travel restrictions and lack of access to passports were also noted, in particular for Tibetans and Uighurs.

Freedom House focussed on the Chinese state’s use of torture, noting it is “widespread in practice” and is used “for the purpose of extracting confessions or forcing political and religious dissidents to recant their beliefs”. The report stated conditions in detention are “harsh” and the estimated 3 to 5 million detainees are subject to regular beatings, inadequate food and the deprivation of medical care.

The report also highlighted the widespread crackdown in China of human rights defenders and activists. Freedom House criticised the move to detain over 200 individuals in July who were involved in legal activism as evidence of the “growing brutality and anxiety of China’s leaders”. Those who have been imprisoned for fighting for democracy and political reform have joined tens of thousands of others imprisoned for their political or religious views.

Further reading: Freedom House report I rankings I overview

Tibet Society, the world’s first Tibet support group, was founded in 1959. Funded by its members, it has been working for over 50 years to seek justice for Tibet through parliamentary lobbying, campaigns and actions. Help keep Tibet alive by joining Tibet Society today. Annual membership £24; Family £36; Life £500.


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