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Tibetan Culture website closed, editor-in-chief disappears

The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) deplores the Chinese authorities closing down of Tibetan culture website-www.tibetcul.com

According to China Information Center on 30 March 2005, “Tibetan Culture, a website run by the Xueyu Zangren Cultural Exchange Co Ltd in China’s northwest Gansu Province, was closed on March 25, by the Internet Administration Department of the Public Security Bureau (“PSB”) of Lanzhou.” It is speculated that “sensitive topics” and articles posted by surfers have led to the close down. Tsewang Norbu, a Tibetan who is the writer and editor-in-chief of the website, is reported to be disappeared. 

Internet is perceived by Beijing as a key instrument in terms of freely receiving, exchanging and disseminating political information and ideas. The Chinese authorities have increasingly placed greater attention on its control and regulation. Beijing has spent millions of dollars in a nationwide surveillance system and was successful in blocking websites it consider anti-government.

Reporters Without Borders, an international press freedom group, in the end of 2003 criticized the Chinese authorities plans to set up a countrywide monitoring system through a system of strictly controlled Internet café chains. The authorities planted monitoring and control softwares in Internet cafés to keep track of information. In April 2004, the authorities in Lhasa, Tibet, made it mandatory for surfers to acquire an “Internet Browsing Registration Card” issued by the Internet Security Branch of Lhasa PSB. The surfers are required to fill a form providing passport or citizen identification information (Ch: shen fen zheng) before they browse the world wide web.

Information in all its form through various media like radio, print press, internet, television, phone messages are blocked in Tibet.

Right to Information lays the foundations for several other fundamental human rights. “Freedom of information is a fundamental human right and is the touchstone of all the freedoms to which the United Nations is consecrated”, the UN General Assembly proclaimed during its first session in 1946. The right to information is an integral part of the broader right to freedom of opinion and expression.

TCHRD demands the Chinese authorities to lift the ban on “Tibet Culture” website and to bring Tsewang Norbu for public appearance. The Centre urges the authorities to respect the Tibetan and Chinese people’s right to information and allow free flow of information in all its form.

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