China strictly controls information about, and access to, what it calls the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR). Tibetans make up 94% of the population of the TAR. China's human rights record in Tibet is very poor. Tibetan Buddhist religious activity has been repressed because it is regarded as politically sympathetic to Tibetan separatism. Most Tibetan political prisoners are monks and nuns. Serious human rights abuses are reported, such as torture, arbitrary arrest, surveillance, detention without trial, repression and restrictions on freedom of movement.
Prisoners are punished if deemed disloyal to the state. Re-education through forced labour is used on prison work sites and is not subject to judicial review. Many political prisoners in Lhasa are serving sentences on charges of counter-revolution despite this charge having been dropped from criminal law in 1997; such acts are now crimes under China's anti-subversion laws.
Foreign travel to the TAR is strictly controlled despite promises that foreign tourists would have unrestricted access. Development and new economic opportunities are bringing in migrants from China's large transient worker population, changing the ethnic balance of the region. Family planning policies permit minority groups to have more children than ethnic Han Chinese. Rural Tibetans are encouraged to limit births to 3 children.
The TAR is one of China's poorest regions, and Tibetans are among the poorest groups in the country, with widespread malnutrition among Tibetan children. Tibetans report discrimination in employment and claim that Han Chinese receive preferential hiring.
Authorities now limit the traditional practice of sending young boys to monasteries for religious training. Monasteries are forbidden from accepting anyone under age 18, but some monasteries admit younger boys by delaying their registration until that age. The availability of teachers in the TAR and other Tibetan-language areas is limited, since many teachers are in exile and older teachers have not been replaced. Fewer monks are being qualified as teachers. For the first time in 16 years authorities have permitted the Geshe Lharampa, the highest religious examinations in Tibetan Buddhism, to take place.
Teachers, who are mostly monks and nuns, undergo political education on a regular basis, and those who refuse to participate are expelled. Young Tibetan men aged 6 to 30 migrate to India to get Tibetan-language education and opportunities for religious education. The rate of illiteracy among Tibetans, at 48%, is more than 5 times higher than China's national average of 9%. Many pupils in rural and nomadic areas receive only 1 to 3 years of schooling.
A comprehensive national Tibetan language curriculum has been developed, and many elementary schools use Tibetan as the primary language of instruction. Students must also study Chinese. In middle and high schools Tibetan is often used only for classes in language, literature and culture, while other classes are in Chinese. Proficiency in Chinese is necessary for higher education. Universities serving ethnic minorities allow the study of only some subjects in Tibetan.
Tibetans are considered an ethnic minority by the Chinese. The Moinbas is also reported to live in Tibet. According to information in the Chinese press they are among the poorest people in Tibet, and there are now opportunities for Moinbas children to study in the ethnic Minority Institutes in Lhasa and in Beijing.
Authorities in Tibetan areas require professors and students at institutions of higher education to attend political education sessions. They also limit courses and materials to prevent separatist political and religious activities on campus. Students at Tibet University are prohibited from engaging in religious practice. The government controls curricula, texts and other course materials.
There are no formal restrictions on women's participation in the political system, and women hold many lower level government positions. Women are under-represented at the provincial and prefectural levels of government. Prostitution is a growing problem.