Tag: regulation

Censorship rules issued by Machu County Internet Police

The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) has obtained a copy of a Chinese government document that announces the implementation of vague and broadly defined rules on internet censorship in Tibet.

Issued for public notice by the Machu (Ch: Maqu) County Public Security Bureau (PSB) located in Kanlho (Ch: Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province, the document in Tibetan contains a list of instructions to online chat group administrators and owners of public online accounts on how to conduct self-censorship.

The notice, that took effect on 8 October, contains rules that are local version of two new regulations released on 7 September by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC). Both the “Management Regulations on Online Public Accounts” and Management Regulations on Internet Groups provide that the regulations were passed to “promote the healthy and orderly development of online community” and “uphold the socialist core values.”

To be implemented by the Machu County Internet Police, the notice orders all online chat group administrators and owners of public online accounts to be responsible for “strictly regulating” their group members and the information they post. They are also made responsible for strictly preventing the spread of ‘illegal’ contents on the internet. The notice covers all online groups such as those that provide information including text, picture, audio and video to the public through any registered online platform as well as online chat groups, social media, and instant messaging apps.

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chinese passportSince 2012, Tibetans from the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) have had their passports confiscated and, as a result, unable to travel abroad. This is because of 29 April 2012 ‘guiding opinions’ on implementing passport regulation issued by the Chinese authorities that was recently obtained by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy. The letter of the law and its implementation have prevented almost all Tibetans in the TAR from travelling outside of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). In 2014, further restrictions have prevented Tibetans from travelling to religious ceremonies and sacred sites.

Article 12(2) of the ICCPR, which is binding on the PRC as part of customary international law, recognizes that everyone has the right to freedom of movement, including the right leave their country. The Human Rights Committee’s General Comment 27 is an authoritative interpretation of this right. It states that international travel cannot be restricted because of the purpose or duration of the travel. The right to freedom of movement may only be restricted in exceptional circumstances when the restriction is necessary to protect national security, public order, public health or morals and the rights and freedoms of others. The General Comment highlighted administrative barriers to travel as a major concern.

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Title page of the temporary regulation passed by Diru County government
Title page of the temporary regulation passed by Diru County government

The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) recently published an update on the escalating repression in Diru (Ch: Biru) County in Nagchu (Ch: Naqu) Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), in the Tibetan province of Kham.[i] The report quoted a source within Tibet who said that in addition to the continuing arrest and disappearance of Tibetans in Diru County for protesting Chinese policies including against mining activities, local government had issued a temporary regulation prohibiting “freedom of movement, speech and religion.”

The report mentioned that failure to abide by these regulations would result in severe punishments for the Tibetans, such as “dismissal from the monastery, cancellation of welfare provisions, and prohibiting the harvesting of the prized caterpillar fungus.” TCHRD has received scanned copies of the Tibetan version of the regulation. Due to the difficulty and risk involved in getting the regulation out of Tibet, TCHRD’s source was unable to scan the complete regulation.

The original regulation includes 4 chapters and 26 articles mainly focusing on the cracking down on separatism, the “Dalai clique”, putting restrictions on participation in religious gathering such as the Kalachakra Empowerment given by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in July 2014 in Ladakh in northern India. The regulation is referred to as “Information Handbook for the Enforcement of Two Separate Regulations issued by Diru County People’s Government” (Tib: diru mimang sizhung gi tenbep khag nyi kyi dril drak lad deb). According to the document, the regulation was passed in June 2014. Its subtitle encapsulates the essence of the regulation: “A temporary regulation on the illegal activities by participating, on one’s own [initiative], in the ‘Great Prayer Festivals’, through crossing the national boundaries, creating and spreading rumors in the public, propagating harmful information, traveling to areas outside of your own locality to [engage in religious] study.”

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