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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?"

China Detains Tibetan Reporter

April 20, 2008

By ANDREW JACOBS
The New York Times Company
April 18, 2008

BEIJING ­ The Chinese authorities have detained a prominent Tibetan
television reporter and intellectual who is also a popular singer,
suggesting that the government crackdown after the disturbances in and
around Tibet has yet to run its course.

The reporter, Jamyang Kyi, 42, an announcer at the state-run television
station in Qinghai, a western province bordering Tibet, was escorted
from her office on April 1 by plainclothes police officers in the city
of Xining, according to colleagues and friends. The authorities also
confiscated her computer and a list of contacts, they said.

Her husband, Lamao Jia, who is also a journalist and a writer, said he
had received no word from his wife for more than a week and did not know
where she was being held. “She is in serious trouble,” he said in a
telephone interview on Thursday. “I’m very worried for her safety. I’m
very sorry. I can’t say more.”

There has been no official confirmation of the detention.

Although she has worked in the Tibetan language division of Qinghai
Television for two decades, Jamyang Kyi is better known for her singing
and song-writing, especially among overseas Tibetans. She has made
several trips abroad, and in 2006 she toured the United States,
appearing with other Tibetan performers, some of them prominent exiles,
and lecturing at several universities.

She is also a respected intellectual and blogger who has written about
women’s rights and the trafficking of girls. Chukora Tsering, a
researcher at the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy in
Dharamsala, India, said he knew of nothing in her music or writings that
might have provoked the authorities. “She is completely apolitical, but
she is a proud Tibetan,” he said. “Still, given her background, we are
not entirely surprised she has been detained.”

The Chinese government is always sensitive to public expression that
could be construed as advocating Tibetan independence, but its vigilance
has intensified since the outbreak of disturbances in Lhasa, the Tibetan
capital, and in Tibetan-populated areas of China last month. The riots
have been followed by a spate of protests and clashes in neighboring
provinces that have large Tibetan populations. The atmosphere remains
especially tense in Qinghai and Gansu Provinces.

According to Xinhua, China’s official news agency, 2,200 people, 519 of
them monks, have been taken into custody since the riots began in
mid-March. The agency said 1,870 of those had been released after
questioning, but officials are still seeking scores of people who took
part in disturbances that the government contends killed 19 people,
nearly all of them Han Chinese. Tibetan exiles put the figure at 140 and
say most of the dead were Tibetan.

In recent weeks, the government-run media have featured a steady diet of
articles detailing the crimes of “Tibetan separatists” who they say are
being led by the Dalai Lama. On Wednesday, the police said they
discovered dynamite, weapons and satellite dishes at 11 Tibetan Buddhist
monasteries in Gansu, in northwestern China.

And on Thursday, Xinhua featured the confessions of two “riotous monks,”
Garzang Samdain and Garzang Samzhou, who it said had admitted to setting
fire to a government building in Gansu, tearing up the Chinese flag and
holding aloft the Tibetan flag, which is banned in China. Last weekend
the police posted photographs on the Internet of 14 Tibetans being
sought for questioning.

Jamyang Kyi has avoided themes or language in her music and writings
that could be construed as challenging the Communist Party’s hold over
Tibet. Many ethnic Tibetans complain of government policies they say
favor Chinese culture over the traditional religion and language of
Tibet, an accusation Chinese officials deny.

“I’m 99 percent sure that there is no basis for the accusations against
her, whatever they might be,” said Robert Barnett, director of Columbia
University’s Modern Tibetan studies program, a sponsor of her 2006 visit.

Asked about Jamyang Kyi’s detention, Jiang Yu, a Foreign Ministry
spokeswoman, said she was unaware of the songwriter’s case. She
insisted, however, that the Chinese legal system dealt fairly with all
its citizens. “China is a country under the rule of law,” she said when
asked about Jamyang Kyi on Thursday. “The law protects freedom of speech
and other rights of its citizens. Only when a person goes against the
law will they be punished by the law.”
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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