Tibetans, Uyghurs protest Apple’s role in censorship in China

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Activist groups protest outside Apple store in Washington DC on Friday (Photo- SFT)
Activist groups protest outside Apple store in Washington DC on Friday (Photo- SFT)

By Choekyi Lhamo

DHARAMSHALA, Aug 1: Tibetans and Uyghurs held a protest at the Apple store in Washington D.C. to voice objection against the tech giant’s role censorship in China on Friday. The protest was held after Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook’s appearance before a Congressional panel on Wednesday. 

Protestors held banners and face masks on which Apple logo had been changed to resemble the logo of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The protest was organised by activist groups including SumOfUs, Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) and Uyghur American Association. The statement said that Apple had deleted over 1000 Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) apps from China App store at the request of CCP in recent years which has made Tibetans, Uyghurs, and citizens of Hong Kong and other human rights defenders vulnerable to government surveillance and repression.

The protestors at the site expressed their solidarity with Hong Kong where Beijing enforced the national security law a month ago. Sondhya Gupta, SumOfUs’ Campaign manager said, “[Chinese] government is so emboldened by years of coddling by corporations like Apple, it is expanding its unprecedented censorship machine and actually removing books from libraries in Hong Kong.”

Pema Doma, SFT Campaign Director of SFT, said that Apple is one of the leading companies in establishing global norms around technology and innovation and further warned that “Apple’s actions today will affect the privacy and digital security of billions for generations to come, especially in places like Tibet that are ruled by authoritarian regimes.” She urged Apple to start respecting the rights of all its consumers and stop kowtowing to dictators. 

Irade Kashgary from the Uyghur American Association criticised Apple for pretending to support freedom and privacy while at the same time enforcing surveillance and oppression in China, “As we stand here beside allies who have also faced immense persecution at the hands of the CCP, we trust that our voices are getting stronger and louder, as we continue to work together so that censorship and oppression will never be tolerated in China or internationally.”

2 Responses

  1. Back in a former era, it was sugar barons promising all sorts of things to natives for geopolitical jockeying. Nowadays, that seems to have morphed to silicon bandits. Some openly, others more coyly. Think about that the next time you use a “smart” device and where all that information you store on it goes. The bandits only care about securing their own positions, so don’t expect much.

  2. It would appear when money is to be made, human rights take a secondary role. No middle class? No expanding consumerism markets to target for quarterly gains and grabbing a little bit of disposable income. Luxury brands just target the well heeled with substantial disposable incomes. Lower number but much larger mark ups and margins.

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