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8october20094Dharamsala October 08, 2009: The Association of Tibetan Journalists (ATJ) has released a press statement appealing to participants at the World Media Summit, a gathering organized by the Chinese government's official new agency, Xinhua, to be mindful of the Chinese Communist Party's lies and propaganda, as well as the widespread media censorship and free speech violations in China and Tibet.

The ATJ believes that the summit is a Chinese guise to influence the international media opinion on China, which has always undermined freedom of expression by crushing the voices that have obstructed its path towards authoritarian rule.

In one instance of Chinese repression, Passang Norbu, a 19 year old Tibetan, was arrested on August 12 of this year for viewing Internet content on Tibetan independence, along with photographs of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan protests against Chinese rule last year. Paljor Norbu, 81, was sentenced in October last year to seven years in prison for allegedly producing the banned Tibeta flag at his printing press. In addition, several Tibetan writers have been arrested and detained for expressing opinions that challenged the Chinese government.

The Chinese have not hesitated to interfere with the work of international journalists, either. Reporters from Japan's Kyoto news agency were attacked by police in their hotel room and had their laptops destroyed a few days before the October 1 celebration of the founding of the Communist Party. Reports have emerged of China's censorship of several international news websites and attacks by viruses and malicious software on computers owned by journalists working for major international news agencies.

Tashi Wangchuk, President of ATJ, reiterated his hope that the Tibetan journalists in exile will be allowed to visit Tibet to conduct an independent investigation of the situation there. "If China is true to its words and claims of stability and prosperity in Tibet, it should let us visit Tibet and witness the situation in Tibet for ourselves," he stated.

As it is, many Tibetans used cellular phones to capture images and videos of protests in Tibet, in order to inform the outside world about the protests in Tibet last March. The government later imposed stricter restrictions on internet and telephone networks, making it difficult for journalists to verify reports of arrests and torture. Tibetans have often ended up in Chinese jails under the mere suspicion of "leaking state secrets" to the outside world.

ATJ urges the Chinese government to respect the Tibetan people's freedom of expression, and to allow free and independent access to journalists, including Tibetan journalists in exile.

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E-mail: editor@thetibetpost.com