The New York-based freedom and democracy watchdog, Freedom House, has listed Tibet as a worst rated disputed territory for this year. In its annual study of world freedom released on December 18, 2001 Freedom House based its findings on a country’s record in two areas: political rights and civil liberties.

“A country upholds its citizens’ civil liberties when it respects and protects their religious, ethnic, economic, linguistic, and other rights, including gender and family rights, personal freedoms, and freedoms of the press, belief, and association,” Freedom House said in its survey.

The survey also said a country grants its citizens political rights when it permits them to form political parties that represent a significant range of voter choice and whose leaders can openly compete for and be elected to positions of power in government.

Since 1978, Freedom House has published Freedom in the World, an annual comparative assessment of the state of political rights and civil liberties in the world.

Widely used by policy-makers, journalists, and scholars, the 600-page survey is the definitive report on freedom around the globe. This year Freedom House rated 192 countries and 17 related and disputed territories as being Free (86 countries), Partly Free (58) and Not Free (48). Freedom House places Tibet under the Disputed Territories category while Hong Kong and Macao are under the Related Territories category.

The survey rates each country on a seven-point scale for both political and civil liberties (1 representing the most free and 7 the least free). While China was rated 7 for political rights and 6 for civil liberties, Tibet was rated 7 in both the categories. Hong Kong was rated 5 in political rights and 3 in civil liberties while Macao was 6 in political rights and 4 in civil liberties. Taiwan was rated 1 in political rights and 2 in civil liberties. The combined average rating of China this year was 6.5 while Taiwan was 1.5. The United States was rated 1 under both the categories and its combined average rating was 1.

The survey revealed the interesting fact that while Tibet was one of the worst-rated areas, China itself was not among the 10 worst-rated countries although falling in the category of Not Free category. This seems to indicate the difference in the situation in China and Tibet. The 10 worst-rated countries for this year are Afghanistan, Burma (Myanmar), Cuba, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria and Turkmenistan.

Freedom House was founded nearly 60 years ago by Eleanor Roosevelt, Wendell Willkie, and other Americans concerned about peace and democracy. It is nonprofit and nonpartisan.