Freedom House: Myanmar now more free than China

Freedom House released its 2013 Freedom in the World rankings today. Over on the main site, David Kramer and Arch Puddington make some recommendations for the Obama administration’s second-term prioritiesbased on the report’s findings. Overall, it’s not great news, with more countries showing declines in freedom than gains for the seventh year in a row. ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
Soe Than WIN/AFP/Getty Images
Soe Than WIN/AFP/Getty Images
Soe Than WIN/AFP/Getty Images

Freedom House released its 2013 Freedom in the World rankings today. Over on the main site, David Kramer and Arch Puddington make some recommendations for the Obama administration's second-term prioritiesbased on the report's findings.

Overall, it's not great news, with more countries showing declines in freedom than gains for the seventh year in a row. The most dramatic improvement was probably in Libya, formerly classed among the reports "worst of the worst" but is now classified as "partly free".  Mali saw the most dramatic fall, going from "free" to "not free" thanks to this year's military coup and the Islamist takeover of much of the country.

But for my money, though it's still classified as "not free," the most eye-catching change may be Myanmar (Burma). Following this year's dramatic events, the country's political rights score improved from 7 to 6 and the civil liberties rating improved from 6 to 5 due to, as Freedom House puts it, "the successful participation of opposition parties in legislative by-elections and the continued easing of long-standing restrictions on the media, private discussion, public assembly,  civil society, private enterprise, and other activities."

Freedom House released its 2013 Freedom in the World rankings today. Over on the main site, David Kramer and Arch Puddington make some recommendations for the Obama administration’s second-term prioritiesbased on the report’s findings.

Overall, it’s not great news, with more countries showing declines in freedom than gains for the seventh year in a row. The most dramatic improvement was probably in Libya, formerly classed among the reports "worst of the worst" but is now classified as "partly free".  Mali saw the most dramatic fall, going from "free" to "not free" thanks to this year’s military coup and the Islamist takeover of much of the country.

But for my money, though it’s still classified as "not free," the most eye-catching change may be Myanmar (Burma). Following this year’s dramatic events, the country’s political rights score improved from 7 to 6 and the civil liberties rating improved from 6 to 5 due to, as Freedom House puts it, "the successful participation of opposition parties in legislative by-elections and the continued easing of long-standing restrictions on the media, private discussion, public assembly,  civil society, private enterprise, and other activities."

The improved scores mean tha  a country that was until recently an international pariah and still partly under U.S. sanctions, is — according to this survey anyway — more free than the world’s second largest economy.

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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