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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Tibetan journalists observe World Press Freedom Day, invite China’s Xinhua to Dharamsala

May 5, 2008

Saturday, May 03, 2008
By Phurbu Thinley

Dharamsala, May 3: Members of the Association of Tibetan Journalists
(ATJ) met here today to observe World Press Freedom Day and called on
Beijing to uphold its promises of press freedom and human rights as the
host of the 2008 Olympics.

The journalists group also extended invitation to Xinhua, the official
Chinese news agency that alone acts as the only Tibet related news
source in China, to Dharamsala, the seat of the exiled Tibetan leader
the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government-in-Exile.

“We would like to invite Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency, to
Dharamshala, India, for first-hand reporting of the situation of
Tibetans in exile, and of the policies and functioning of the Tibetan
government-in-exile, the Tibetan non-governmental organisations, and
other institutes,” the ATJ’s invitation letter to Xinhua said.

Xinhua has in recent weeks published a series of articles attacking the
Dalai Lama with harsh criticisms and blaming him and the Tibetan
Government-in-exile of orchestrating the recent unrest in Tibet.

Although the Dalai Lama has consistently denied the accusations, Chinese
media have not shown any heed.

“We also believe that the Dalai Lama would surely be interested to
interact with Xinhua journalists if an interview is requested,” ATJ
president Mr Lobsang Wangyal said during the meeting.

The invitation letter to be posted through the Chinese embassy in New
Delhi today also asked the Beijing government for permission for a group
of exile Tibetan journalists to go to Tibet for first-hand reporting of
the situation there.

The letter further says, “Since the Beijing Olympics is of interest to
all Tibetans as well as the entire world, we also would like to come to
Beijing and cover the event”.

“We hope that the Chinese government, as host of the Olympics, would
take this opportunity to open up for freedom, democracy and justice,”
the association’s letter stated, and called on the Chinese government to
release some 40 journalists and writers currently held in jail.

The letter said these journalists and writers were “simply performing an
act of expression, not causing any threat to the security of China or
the unity of the Chinese people” as they are allegedly jailed for.

Miss Satsuki Takahashi, a long time supporter of Tibetan journalists and
Tibet’s cause from Japan also attended the ATJ’s meeting. She was
accompanied by her Japanese colleagues.

World Press Freedom Day is a day designated by the United Nations to
raise awareness of the importance of freedom of the press and to remind
governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of
expression enshrined under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights.

Proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993, the day is celebrated
each year on 3 May, the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek, a
statement of free press principles put together by African newspaper
journalists in 1991.

The Association of Tibetan Journalists, based in Dharamsala, was formed
in 1997 and has over 40 members to date.
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