Sunday, October 11, 2009

ATJ calls on participants of Xinhua Summit to urge China to allow freedom of press and expression in China and Tibet.

The Association of Tibetan Journalists (ATJ) appeals the participants of the World Media Summit organized by the Chinese government’s official new agency Xinhua to be mindful of the lies and propaganda of the Chinese Communist Party.
We appeal the participants to raise the issue of media censorship and violation of freedom of speech and expression in China and Tibet.

The ATJ believes that the summit is a guise to influence the international media opinion on China, which has always undermined the freedom of expression by crushing the voices that came in its way to authoritarianism and rule of tyranny.

Passang Norbu, a 19 year old Tibetan youth, was arrested on August 12 this year for simply watching Internet contents on Tibetan independence, photographs of the Dalai Lama and Tibetan protests against Chinese rule last year. Paljor Norbu, an 81 year old Tibetan, was sentenced in October last year to seven year’s in prison for allegedly printing the banned Tibetan national flag at his printing press. Moreover, there have been several cases of arrests and detention of Tibetan writers who simply expressed their opinions against the Chinese government.

The true face of China’s tolerance to freedom of expression was flashed across television screens last year when monks of Lhasa’s Jokhang openly spoke against the Chinese government and expressed their loyalty to the exile Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama before a visiting group of international journalists in a state monitored tour.

Journalists of Japan’s Kyodo news agency were beaten up by police in their hotel room and their laptops destroyed days before the October 1 celebration of the founding of the Communist Party. Reports have emerged of China’s censorship of several international news websites and attacks by viruses and malicious softwares on computers owned by journalists working for major international news agencies.

Tashi Wangchuk, President of ATJ, reiterated his hope that the Tibetan journalists in exile should be allowed to visit Tibet for an independent investigation of the situation there. "If China is true to its words and claims of stability and prosperity in Tibet, it should let us visit Tibet and witness the situation in Tibet for ourselves."

Many Tibetans have used cellular phones to capture images and videos of protests in Tibet to inform the outside world about the protests in Tibet last year. The government later imposed stricter restrictions on internet, telephone and cellular networks making it difficult to verify reports of arrests and torture in prisons. This is exactly the reason why there is a considerable time-lapse in the information we receive and the actual time of the happening. Many Tibetans have landed up in Chinese jails on mere suspicion of “leaking state secrets” to the outside world, and have been branded “separatists”.

ATJ urges the Chinese government to respect the Tibetan people’s freedom of expression, and allow free and independent access to journalists including the Tibetan journalists in exile.

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