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journalists-prisonDharamshala: - As the Chinese authorities continue to ban access to journalists attempting to report on the situation inside Tibet, a global annual census on imprisoned journalists conducted by a leading international NGO promoting press freedom reveals that 10 out of 27 known journalists imprisoned in China are Tibetans. Six are Uyghurs.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in its December 2011 Prison Census on China said that Tibetans and Uyghurs form the bulk of journalists jailed in China, adding this unfortunate trend dates back to the widespread 2008 and 2009 protests in Tibet and East Turkestan (Chinese: Xinjiang) respectively. (Please click here for the CPJ Survey: http://www.cpj.org/imprisoned/2011.php#china)

The ten imprisoned Tibetan journalists are documentary filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen (sentenced to 6 years since December 28, 2009, detained in March 26, 2008); Kunchok Tsephel Gopey Tsang, online writer for Tibetan cultural issues website, Chomei (15 years since November 2009, detained in February 26, 2009); Kunga Tsayang aka Gangyi, political essayist, photographer and environmental activist (5 years since November 2010, detained in March 17, 2009); Tashi Rabten, writer /publisher of Shar Dungri magazine (4 years since 2 June 2011, detained since April 6, 2010); Dokru Tsultrim, the twice-detained monk writer for Khawai Tsesok journal (formal charges undisclosed); Jolep Dawa, writer and editor of Durab Kyi Nga magazine (3 years since October 2011, detained in October 1, 2010); Choepa Lugyal aka Meycheh, freelance writer for Shar Dungri magazine (formal charges and wherabouts are unknown, detained in October 19, 2011).

The writer and editor Jangtse Donkho aka Nyen and his fellow writer for Shar Dungri magazine Buddha were detained since June-July 2010. Both were sentenced to 4 years imprisonment subjected to hard labor since October 2010 while another writer for Shar Dungri, Kalsang Jinpa aka Garmi who was arrested along with Nyen and Buddha was sentenced to 3 years in October 2010. In January 2011, the three were imprisoned subjected to hard labor in Mianyang jail near Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province.

In light of extreme restrictions and censorship laws placed on any information related to Tibet as ''state secrets'', the number that this survey throws up may not be the complete picture. There might be more unknown and unreported cases of rights violations and power abuses on the part of the Chinese government. John Kamm of Dui Hua Foundation had said the current number could be inconclusive.

Dechen Pemba, editor of High Peaks Pure Earth reported on 1 February 2012 that some very popular privately-run Tibetan language blogs had gone offline. According to Pemba, the offline message on 1 February on the blog site Rangdrol.net said, “For the sake of life, we are mourning and crying.†But attempts by TCHRD to access the site on 10 February met with a warning/error message.

Likewise on 10 February, when TCHRD tried to reach the blog section of website AmdoTibet, a curt offline notice in Tibetan said the blog was unavailable from 1 February to end of March 2012. But the 1 February notice on the blog, according to Pemba said, ''Due to some of the blog users not publishing in accordance with the goal of this site, the blog has temporarily been shut down, we hope that blog users will have understanding!''

These are just few of the examples of many other Tibetan websites that are shut down frequently by the Chinese authorities to block information and opinions inconvenient to the Chinese government. This state-supported practice to gag Tibetan voice, by arresting and imprisoning their collective spokespersons, steadily contribute toward silencing the conscience of a people.

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E-mail: editor@thetibetpost.com