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19july2012-002Dharamshala: - A global human rights group said that China has decided to further intensify restrictions on news, media, and communications in Tibet. Despite the whole world fundamentally changing from a totalitarian regime to a democratic state, China has once again cut off the whole of Tibet from the outside world with a ban on foreign media and tourists.

A report released by Human Rights Watch (HRW) said, "The measures appear to be an effort to cut off Tibetans in China from news and also to prevent the views of the Tibetan leader, the Dalai Lama and his followers from reaching Tibetans inside China, particularly those living in rural areas."

The steps taken involve further control, especially in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR), on internet usage , text messages, phone ownership, music publishing, and photocopying, as well as intensified government propaganda through new TV channels, village education sessions, film showings, distribution of books, and the provision of satellite television receivers with fixed reception to government channels. 

"Under the guise of combating 'separatism' the Chinese government is constantly  violating Tibetans' rights to the freedom of expression, religion, culture, and movement," said Sophie Richardson, China director at HRW. "The authorities have a responsibility to uphold public order, but that cannot be used as a blanket justification for the kinds of measures to limit communications that the Chinese authorities are imposing in Tibet."

Last month Party Secretary Chen Quanguo, of the TAR urged officials in Tibet to "make sure that the Central Party's voices and images can be heard across 120 thousand square kilometers," and that "no voices and images of enemy forces and Dalai clique can be heard and seen."

The self-immolation count has now increased to 46 since 2009. These tragic events inside Tibet mark the largest ever group of self-immolation protests for one cause in history, said analysts.

Yet their actions remain unheard and fail to gather the necessary support required to get China to take responsibility and ensure Tibetans their rights.In response to this the Chinese government deems these as "terrorist acts" and refuses to examine the root cause of their actions. Instead, they also decide to tighten restrictions on media and travel in Tibet.

Although the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) appeals to Tibetans to refrain from taking such drastic steps, Tibetans persist in self-immolations as their loudest form of protest to be heard.

The Chinese authorities define them as "Violent acts of Terrorism". Complexities exist in Buddhist philosophy about whether harming oneself is considered violent, as well as, the motivation for the act, rather than the act itself, can only determine if it is to be regarded as violent or not. However, what remains clear is that these protesters intended to avoid harming anyone other than themselves.

To understand why Tibetans would take such a drastic step, it becomes necessary to examine their motivations. In China there is no room for freedom of any kind; speech or other conventional forms of protest. Taking part in a simple peace demonstration can get one arrested, tortured or even put to death.

Denied the general, simple forms of protest, Tibetans are driven to take up more extreme ways to be noticed and heard. In recent light of the twin self-immolations in the capital city of Lhasa, the Chinese authorities have completely banned foreign tourists and journalists from visiting Tibet.

Foreign journalists have been prevented by the police from covering peaceful protests and demonstrations by the Tibetans against the Chinese rule. Aware that such restrictions are unlawful, the authorities regularly cite bad weather or the poor state of the roads to restrict access to the autonomous region.

Throughout history people have set themselves ablaze as a form of protest, but what makes Tibetan self-immolations unique is the extremely high number of instances.  Although so many have resorted to this form of protest, the response from foreign officials and media remains relatively mild. The concerns expressed over the Tibet issue fail to translate into concrete action.

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