DHARAMSHALA, August 27: The global press freedom group, Reporters Without Borders, has called China’s complete isolation of Tibet from international media and outside reporters an “increasingly worrying” trend.
In a release last week, RSF said China continues to deny independent reporters permission to enter Tibet following large-scale anti-China protests this year led by the ongoing wave of self-immolations.
“Beijing’s isolation of Tibet is increasingly worrying,” RSF said. “In March this year, the head of the Tibet Communist Party, Chen Quanguo, ordered the local authorities to tighten their control over all means of communication, in particular mobile phones and the Internet, in order to ‘maintain the public’s interests and national security’.”
The group condemned the arbitrary detention and the sentencing of a prominent Tibetan Buddhist monk Yonten Gyatso to seven years in prison by a Chinese court in eastern Tibet.Lho Younten Gyatso
, 37, a monk of Khashi Geyphel Samtenling Monastery, was sentenced on June 18 for allegedly sharing pictures and information on nun Tenzin Wangmo, who self-immolated on October 17, 2011.
He was also charged with “sharing information since 2008 about political events in Tibet by attempting to make telephone calls to human rights mechanisms of the UN.”
RSF called for Gyatso’s immediate release and the withdrawal of the charges against him.
“In China, leaking state secrets outside the country is a crime under article 32 of the Law on Guarding State Secrets,” the release said. “Any news that is disturbing or political in nature is liable to be deemed a state secret.”
In the 2011-2012 World Press Freedom Index compiled by RSF, China is ranked 174th of 179 countries and is also on the group’s 2012 list of “Internet Enemies”.
In a special report earlier this year, RSF had expressed “alarm” at the total media blackout imposed by Chinese authorities in Tibet, preventing all media coverage of the self-immolation protests and mass demonstrations in the region.
“Out of sight of the world, a major crisis is unfolding. Even Pyongyang has an international media presence, which is not the case in Lhasa.”
RSF also accused China of aiming to “control the Tibetan people behind closed doors” by excluding journalists, the group said Beijing is trying to restrict all communication between the region and the rest of the world.
“Connections are cut off, access is blocked and content linked to the unrest is removed,” the report said. “Local community networks are particularly targeted in order to nip in the bud any attempt at mobilising support online.”