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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

CHINA With foreign media still barred from Tibet, what is the government hiding?

April 24, 2008

Press release
Reporters Without Borders/Reporters sans frontières
23 April 2008

Reporters Without Borders called today for the foreign news media to be
allowed back immediately into Tibet and nearby provinces with a Tibetan
population, where the Chinese authorities have maintained a news
blackout and have been conducting a massive propaganda campaign for the
past six weeks.

"What is the Chinese government hiding behind Tibet's closed doors?" the
press freedom organisation asked. "Things are clearly far from being
back to normal, as the authorities claim. The few reports emerging
suggest a very different situation, one of arrests and a climate of fear
in the cities and around the monasteries."
Reporters Without Borders added: "The news blackout facilitates the work
of the government's propaganda machine but also the spread of rumours
encouraged by certain groups abroad. We appeal to the European Union and
the United Nations to try to get the government to allow foreign
reporters to travel freely in Tibet and the neighbouring regions."

The organisers of the Beijing Olympic Games yesterday announced that a
press trip to cover an attempt to take the Olympic torch to the top of
Everest was being postponed indefinitely. Reporters were supposed to
have gone to the Tibetan capital of Lhasa first to get adjusted to the
altitude, but the Lhasa stage of the trip has been cancelled altogether
because of "meteorological" problems, the authorities said. "Only
coverage of the torch relay will be allowed," an official said.

No journalist has been allowed to move about freely in Tibet and the
regions with a Tibetan population since 14 March. Two press trips were
organised by the authorities to Lhasa and to Labrang monastery in Gansu
province. Tourists have been banned from visiting the Himalayan region
until further notice.

Reporters Without Borders has learned of about 50 violations of the
right of foreign journalists to move about freely in the Tibetan regions
since mid-March.

The authorities have waged a massive propaganda campaign designed to
portray Tibetans as "rioters" and "terrorists." The official news agency
Xinhua's dispatches talk above all of a return to normal and the
discovery of weapons in Buddhist temples. Xinhua announced that the
authorities have found firearms, dynamite and satellite dishes in 11
monasteries in Gansu.

National and provincial TV stations have been asked to keep broadcasting
footage of violence by Tibetans in Lhasa or in the city of Aba in
Sichuan province, where Tibetans attacked public buildings.

To prevent the Tibetan population from getting access to uncensored news
reports, the authorities have stepped up the jamming of international
radio stations that broadcast in Tibetan such as Voice of Tibet and
Radio Free Asia. Violating international rules governing short and
medium wave broadcasting, the Chinese authorities transmit low-pitched
noise on the same frequencies as the foreign stations.

Voice of Tibet manager Oystein Alme told Reporters Without Borders: "We
have noted a significant increasing in jamming since 16 March,
especially in the cities where the government has invested tens of
millions of dollars to install antennae to prevent Tibetans from
listening to us."

The propaganda campaign against the "Dalai Lama's clique" gets a lot of
space in the Chinese media based abroad. The state-owned CCTV's stations
that broadcast in foreign languages just show the violence by Tibetans
and never refer to the reprisals that followed. Ouzhou Shibao (News of
Europe), a newspaper based in France, published a full page on Tibet
giving the government's position.

Chinese Internet users and hackers are also harassing pro-Tibetan
organisations. The Tibetan government-in-exile's site was recently put
out of commission by a group of hackers based in China. And several
foreign news media, especially websites that allow visitors to post
comments, are being flooded with messages that repeat government
propaganda word for word.

The Chinese authorities have ordered the media to stick to the official
toll of 13 innocent civilians killed and 300 wounded by "rioters." The
Tibetan government-in-exile reported that about 100 Tibetans were killed
and hundreds were arrested. Some pro-Tibetan groups say thousands are
being held in camps where torture is practised.

Reporters Without Borders condemns the Chinese government's constant
criticism of the foreign media's coverage of the situation in Tibet.
"Some media deliberately misrepresent the facts and wrongly portray a
hateful crime as a peaceful demonstration," Tibetan communist leader
Raidi said.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
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