Tibet is the least-free country on Earth, sharing the bottom spot with South Sudan and Syria in watchdog group Freedom House’s new global rankings.

“After more than six decades of illegal occupation, China has turned Tibet into the world’s least-free country alongside South Sudan and Syria,” the International Campaign for Tibet said. “With Tibet once again at the bottom of Freedom House’s global freedom scores, it’s imperative that the global community take action to resolve the decades-long conflict in Tibet. A key first step is for the US Congress to pass the bipartisan Promoting a Resolution to the Tibet-China Conflict Act, which will pressure China’s government to resume peaceful negotiations with the Dalai Lama’s envoys.”

According to Freedom House’s Freedom in the World 2023 report, released today, March 9, 2023, Tibet has a global freedom score of 1 out of a possible 100.

This is the third straight year that Tibet has been at the bottom of the rankings, following 2022 and 2021.

Global freedom score

Freedom House

Freedom House’s global freedom scores comprise individual scores for both political rights and civil liberties.

As in prior years, Tibet scored minus 2 out of a possible 40 for political rights and 3 out of a possible 60 for civil liberties, giving it an overall score of 1.

South Sudan and Syria have that same overall score, with each scoring minus 3 for political rights and 4 for civil liberties.

In its narrative report on Tibet, Freedom House says both ethnic Chinese and Tibetans lack basic rights in Tibet, “but the authorities are especially rigorous in suppressing any signs of dissent among Tibetans, including manifestations of Tibetan religious beliefs and cultural identity.”

Freedom House says key developments in Tibet in 2022 included China using an outbreak of COVID-19 to increase repression against Tibetans, sending thousands of people to overcrowded and unsanitary facilities where the authorities refused to segregate the healthy from the sick. The situation was so bad that at least five Tibetans committed suicide by jumping off mass quarantine sites or locked-down residential buildings

Another key development, according to Freedom House, was a report from Citizen Lab that China may have gathered DNA samples over six years from as much as one-third of the total population of the Tibet Autonomous Region, which spans most of western Tibet.

Read Freedom House’s narrative report on Tibet.

March 10 anniversary

Freedom House’s report comes just one day before the 64th anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising of March 10, 1959, when the Tibetan people rose up as one against China’s occupation of their homeland.

Although Chinese troops eventually crushed their uprising, the Tibetans succeeded in helping their leader, the Dalai Lama, escape into exile, keeping the Tibetan cause alive.

In the more than six decades since, China has brutally repressed the Tibetan people, committing innumerable human rights violations.

According to the Central Tibetan Administration, which provides democratic governance for Tibetans in exile, more than 1 million Tibetans have died as a direct result of China’s invasion and occupation of their land.

Resolve Tibet Act

To mark Tibetan Uprising Day, supporters of Tibet will hold protests around the world tomorrow, March 10, 2023.

In Washington, DC, Tibetan Americans and Tibet supporters will rally outside China’s embassy, then march to The White House for further demonstrations. Members of Congress are expected to speak at the event.

Participants at the rally will call for the passage of the Promoting a Resolution to the Tibet-China Conflict Act, which Reps. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., and Michael McCaul, R-Texas, and Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Todd Young, R-Ind., recently reintroduced in Congress.

Known as the Resolve Tibet Act, the bill will make it official US policy that China must resume dialogue with the envoys of the Dalai Lama, as the conflict between Tibet and China is unresolved and Tibet’s legal status remains to be determined under international law. The two sides held 10 rounds of dialogue between 2002-2010, but since then, the dialogue process has remained stalled.