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1february20103Despite strong international criticism for the lack of freedom of speech, including Internet access, in Chinese-occupied Tibet, Chinese officials have claimed that the Himalayan region is expected to have 100,000 Internet users in 2010, a 15 percent rise from 2009, according to a report by state controlled media 'Xinhua'.

Foreign journalists are finding it increasingly difficult to visit Tibet, and the government suppresses free speech there is even more ruthlessly than in the rest of China. Tibetan writers and journalists are tortured and heavily punished after being arrested covering anti-occupation protests and other political issues related Tibet, and many independent websites have been shut down in last 2 years, stated Tibet Post editor Mr. YC. Dhardhowa.

"The number of such users was 919,000 in 2009, up 15.43 percent from the previous year—much higher than the growth rate of telephone and mobile phone subscribers. Meanwhile, the overall telecommunications rates in 2010 will decrease by nine percent," reported Xinhua.

"Tibet had 1.79 million telephone and mobile phone users at the end of 2009, with every 100 people having 19 telephones and 43 mobile phones," the report continued.

"No independent news or information can be reported by the print media, broadcast media or new media in Chinese-controlled Tibet. But outside the country, especially in India, where hundreds of thousands of Tibetans have found refuge, independent news media produce and disseminate alternative news," Reporters Without Borders reported last year.

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E-mail: editor@thetibetpost.com