Free Tibet: Self-immolation footage smuggled out of Tibet
The 19th UN-sanctioned ‘World Press Freedom Day’ comes with news of the Chinese government’s latest strategy aimed at silencing protesters in Tibet.
Chinese authorities have released a directive which states that officials will ‘severely crack down’ on anyone discovered to be involved with protests of any kind.
It offers rewards of 5,000 yuan (£490 or $796) to willing informants, threatens Tibetans with imprisonment for any so called ‘separatist’ activities and gives a warning against anyone trying to engage with foreign media outlets using the internet, phone or any social media platforms.
Brave Tibetans now face an even bigger risk and severe punishment for any involvement in protests.
A recent statement from Reporters without Borders compared the media crackdown in Tibet unfavourably with North Korea: “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,” it said.
A chilling thought on World Press Freedom Day.
Image: Freedom of information China-style
Tibetans continue to share and disseminate information about the current protests. They do so at great risk, operating in a culture of repression and at risk of detention and torture.
Meanwhile, world leaders continue to refrain from publicly speaking out for Tibet. Contact them and ask them to break the silence.
This is the final message of Sonam and Choephak Kyap who set themselves on fire and died last week in the name of Tibetan freedom.
Discovered two days after their self-immolation, their recording is now being shared among Tibetans.
This is the latest example of Tibetans passing on information about protests in spite of China’s attempts to control communications across the country.
They said they were self-immolating “against the Chinese government and for the protection of the Buddha Dharma”.
Their call has inspired Tibetans in Barma township, where they self-immolated, to gather at the local monastery to pledge solidarity.
Sonam and Choephak Kyap were not interested in personal glory but in “Tibetan people’s rights”.
Those rights, including the right to share calls for freedom, are now being asserted by those who hear the message.
They do so at great risk to themselves. The least we can do is share it too.
dongdey: 10 Unsettling Reasons You Should Care About What’s Happening Right Now In Tibet
China gives free gyms to Tibetan monasteries
In late March, Chinese authorities announced they have given Tibetan monks the gift of health and fitness by sending gym equipment to 20 Tibetan monasteries.
Each monastery will receive a full set of 14 pieces of equipment, including a treadmill, an elliptical trainer and a rowing machine. This is especially exciting to the many monks in centuries-old monasteries which are still housed in mud-and-brick buildings in the Himalayans.
According to Chinese sports experts, the monks’ traditional exercise regime that comes with their Buddhist practices is not enough to keep them in shape.
“We want to improve the exercise conditions in the monasteries in order to enrich the cultural and athletic life of monks and nuns,” said Yang Zhanqi, deputy head of the regional sports bureau.
The modern gym equipment provides the monks the opportunity to target specific muscle groups, a luxury they didn’t have before.
Do the Chinese seriously think that some rowing machines and a few treadmills will make up for 50 years of violence and oppression against Tibetans including shootings , torture , detentions and much more?
photo credit: Pedro saraiva
It is extremely disappointing to learn that the organisers of the London Book Fair and the British Council have apparently acquiesced to pressure from the Chinese authorities and failed to invite dissident authors and poets to the event at Earls Court next week (Report, 21 March). The London Book Fair should be using this opportunity to showcase voices from all perspectives in the Peoples’ Republic of China, including the dissenting voices that might be critical of the state, such as jailed poet and Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, and Tibetan writer Tsering Woeser. It is bad enough that writers, journalists, bloggers and academics are subject to heavy censorship in China, but we should not be allowing the authorities to replicate their restrictions on freedom of expression further afield.
Kate Allen Director, Amnesty International UK
Hori Takeaki Secretary, Pen International
Dr Kirsty Hughes Chief executive, Index on Censorship
Philippa Carrick Chief executive, Tibet Society
Kate Saunders International Campaign for Tibet
Pempa Lobsang Chairperson, Tibetan Community in Britain
Pema Yoko National director, Students for a Free Tibet
Andrew Johnston Advocacy director, Christian Solidarity Worldwide
Shao Jiang Chinese Unofficial Publication Network
Nicola Macbean Executive director, The Rights Practice
Tienchi Liao Independent Chinese Pen Centre
There are a number of volunteer and job opportunities at Free Tibet at the moment. Have a look and see if you’d like to get involved on our work.
Tibet is rising. Find out more on the Free Tibet website.