English PEN is alarmed by the lengths to which the Chinese authorities are going in order to deter independent journalists from covering the recent protests in Tibet and neighbouring provinces.
The latest unrest in Tibet began as monks and activists staged protests in Lhasa and other regions on 10 March 2008. The protests reportedly began in response to accusations made by the Chinese Government, claiming that the supporters of Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, were ‘inciting the unrest to sabotage the Beijing Olympics’. The protests soon developed into the largest demonstrations in nearly two decades, with pro-Tibet protests worldwide.
Although international journalists have always struggled to report freely from Tibet, as a result of these events the Chinese authorities have now imposed additional restrictions on the press and on the flow of information from Tibet. The restrictions have manifested in a number of ways, ranging from the expulsion of at least 25 journalists from Tibet and other areas for ‘illegal reporting’, to censoring news coverage and Internet reports in mainland China. Reports in the Chinese State media on the protests in Lhasa make no mention of Tibetan casualties or the army being deployed.
Since last week, the authorities have refused to grant foreign correspondents permits to enter Tibet, ostensibly for ‘safety’ reasons, despite the January 2007 pledge to allow foreign journalists in China to freely carry out their work ahead of the Olympic Games.
There have also been reports of significant interruptions of telephone and Internet service in Lhasa and other Tibetan areas since 10 March. Consequently, first-hand reports on the protests have been rare, whilst reports of the number of people killed and arrested as a result of the protests cannot be verified. According to Tibet’s government-in-exile in Dharamsala, India, as many as 100 people have been killed and 1,000 arrested. China’s State media, on the other hand, reports that only 16 civilians have been killed to date.
Please send appeals:
Demanding that the Chinese government provide immediate and unfettered access to the Tibet Autonomous Region and all traditionally Tibetan areas in Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu and Yunnan provinces to both Chinese and international journalists;
Calling for the restoration of phone and Internet access;
Urging the Chinese authorities to put an end to all domestic censorship of international news feeds and Internet reports from Tibet.
His Excellency Hu Jintao
President of the People’s Republic of China
It may be more effective, however, to send the above appeal via the PRC’s representative in the UK:
Her Excellency Mrs Fu Ying
49-51 Portland Place
To read International PEN’s statement on the recent crackdown in Tibet, please click here.
Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/bulletins/tibetsuffocatingrestrictionsonjournalists/