DHARAMSHALA, February 1: China finds itself placed once again among the worst in the world for press freedom and media rights in a new report released by France based Reporters Without Borders.
Ranked at a dismal 173 out of 179 countries, the global media rights group in its 2013 Press Freedom Index said China “shows no sign on improving.”
The world’s most populous nation finds itself among countries such as North Korea, Syria, Iran, and Eritrea.
The group noted that Chinese prisons still hold many journalists and netizens, while increasingly unpopular Internet censorship by the state continues to be a major obstacle to access to information.
“Many Tibetan monks have been convicted or abducted for having sent information abroad about the disastrous state of human rights in Tibet,” RSF said in its annual Press Freedom Index.
“Commercial news outlets and foreign media organisations are still censored regularly by the propaganda department.”
Recently, Chinese authorities in eastern Tibet led a massive drive confiscating and banning satellite dishes and other broadcast equipments as part of the government’s wider clampdown on communications to stifle information on the self-immolations against Chinese rule.
According to the group, China is the world’s biggest prison for journalists, bloggers and cyber-dissidents with most of the “prisoners” have been sentenced to long jail sentences for “subversion” or “divulging state secrets.”
“The communist party has marshalled massive financial and human resources to keep control over news,” RSF said. “Most international radio news programmes in Chinese, Tibetan and Uyghur are scrambled via hundreds of aerials positioned throughout the country.”
The group also accused China of blocking thousands of websites and hiring “tens of thousands of cyber-police and cyber-censors” to constantly monitor the Web to purge it of “immoral and subversive” content.
RSF further noted that “tough crackdown has been applied in Tibet and Xinjiang against anyone attempting to get out accounts, particularly footage, showing violence by security forces.”
“Scores of Tibetans and Uyghurs have been detained, some of them given life sentences, for sending information abroad or trying to provide news differing from the party line.”
This week, Chinese courts in eastern Tibet sentenced a Tibetan Lobsang Kunchok, to death with a two-year reprieve on alleged charges of inciting self-immolations and sending out information on the protesters.
Foreign journalists who have been able to slip past heavy security check points and gain rare access to Tibet have been detained, kicked out of the region, and threatened of visa cancellations.