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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Tibetan, Indian Journalists Mark World Press Freedom Day

May 4, 2009

By Phurbu Thinley
May 3, 2009

Dharamsala, May 3 -- Tibetan and Indian
journalists gathered together on Sunday to
jointly observe world Press Freedom Day.

Some 50 Indian and Tibetan journalists, including
a handful of Tibetan analysts, participated in an
interactive function this morning organized by
the Association of Tibetan Journalists (ATJ).

ATJ, in its press release, said it organized the
event to join "the voice against suppression of
freedom of press on the World Press Freedom Day,"
and to call on the Chinese government to create
conducive atmosphere for journalists to report on the situation in Tibet.

In a press release marking the day, ATJ said
several Tibetan writers and journalists were
detained by China following last year’s anti-China protests.

"Reports from Tibet and China of Beijing's
crackdown on the media clearly show the extent to
which a government can go in shutting up
journalists who often become the victims of
government atrocities," ATJ president Tashi Wangchuk said.

"The Association of Tibetan Journalists,
therefore, calls on world leaders of respective
countries and China in particular, to release all
those journalists imprisoned and stop committing
crimes against the media," Wangchuk added.

"ATJ strongly feels the need to examine the
situation in Tibet at this stage," Wangchuk said,
adding "Despite the claims by China that
situation in Tibet is normal reports of
undeclared martial law and an atmosphere of
constant fear gripping the region continue to emerge out.”

China ranked among world's worst-rated states
against press freedom in a study released by
media rights group Freedom House on Friday.
Meanwhile, Committee to Protect Journalists
(CPJ), also placed China among its list of "10
worst countries to be a blogger," naming Myanmar,
Iran, Syria, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam,
Tunisia, China, Turkmenistan and Egypt to its "dishonor roll."

Wangchuk said Tibetan journalists were ready to
visit the Tibetan areas to observe the situation
there independently. "We had expressed our
willingness to do so. So far, we have received no
response from Chinese government," Wangchuk said.

Tashi argued that if the claims by Chinese
government of Tibetans enjoying in Tibet were to
believed then there should not be any problem for
China to allow independent international media into the region.

Speaking on behalf of the local Indian
journalists from Dharamsala Press Club, Suresh
Khatta, correspondent for Indian Express,
commended ATJ’s initiative in bringing the two
media closer together. Khatta also stressed on
the need to forge similar collaboration between
the two media groups in the future.

Wangchuk said the expense for the event was
sponsored by ATJ’s long time friend Ms Satsuki
Takahashi of Norbu Create, Japan.

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

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.
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