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Exile Tibet radio claims China steps up jamming of news broadcasts

April 3, 2008

The Associated Press
Wednesday, April 2, 2008

OSLO, Norway: The exile radio network Voice of Tibet on Wednesday
accused Beijing of stepping up jamming of its shortwave news broadcasts
into the Himalayan province during a crackdown on anti-Chinese
demonstrations in Tibet and ahead of the 2008 Olympics in China.

"There has been enormous focus on journalists not getting free access to
Tibet. The other side of the coin is that information from the outside
is not getting into Tibet," said Oystein Alme, a Norwegian who runs the
nonprofit foundation's business office in Oslo.

Most of the Voice of Tibet's 13 staff work at its main editorial office
in Dharamsala, India, with Alme handling administration and funding in
Oslo. The network started broadcasting in 1996, and has daily evening
newscasts about Tibet in the Tibetan language and Mandarin Chinese.

"They started jamming us nearly 13 years ago," Alme told The Associated
Press. "Now they have been stepping it up in connection with the
demonstrations."

Tibetans have been protesting and rioting in the longest challenge to
China's rule in the Himalayan region since 1989. The crackdown by
Chinese authorities has focused international attention on the country's
human-rights record in the run-up to the Beijing Games in August.

The protests started out peacefully among monks on March 10 ? the
anniversary of a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule ? but they
turned violent four days later. The province has been all but closed to
independent news media. Chinese officials say 22 people have died in the
protests, while Tibetan exiles say nearly 140 people were killed.

Alme said the Chinese use ground stations in Tibet to transmit two or
more additional signals on the frequency used by the Voice of Tibet to
make the broadcasts incomprehensible.

"The Chinese jamming transmissions contain a mixture of dragon dance
music, drums and noise, and affects listening also in India, Nepal and
Europe," said Alme. The Chinese are "denying Tibetans access to
uncensored news and information from the outside world."

Alme said Chinese jamming violated international treaties giving the
network exclusive rights to its registered frequency.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing had no immediate comment on the
allegation.

China's Communist government maintains strict controls over the media.
Domestic news outlets are entirely state-run and Beijing limits access
to foreign news broadcasts and Web sites.

International organizations, including Reporters Without Borders and the
World Association of Newspapers, also have protested China's crackdown
on information to and from Tibet, particularly considering its promised
of press freedoms when it was awarded the 2008 Olympics.

"The Chinese government is trampling on the promises it made linked to
the Olympics and preparing the ground to crack down on the Tibetan
revolt in the absence of witnesses," said a recent statement from
Reporters Without Borders, which also protested Chinese jamming of the
Voice of Tibet, the Voice of America and Radio Free Asia.

During pro-democracy protests in Myanmar late last year, the Oslo-based
Democratic Voice of Burma was a crucial source of information about what
was happening in that country after the military dictatorship cut off
most information during a brutal crackdown. The independent Burma radio
managed to smuggle out pictures and information through the Internet and
by mobile phones.

"It is very different for us," said Alme about Tibet. "We don't have any
information. The grip on the Tibet is much stronger."

Alme refused to say where Voice of Tibet transmitters are based or who
funds it, fearing Chinese efforts to force them to withdraw support.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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