What do we want? Information
One of the parallels between events in Tibet and those in Burma last year – apart from the obvious involvement of monks and the use of military might to crush them – is the way in which footage is finding its way out of the country despite the best efforts of the authorities.
We know, of course, that there’s little the Chinese authorities don’t know about Internet repression. A targeted police force, reportedly over 10,000-strong, monitors Internet traffic and emails. Major IT companies like Cisco, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! have been complicit in suppressing freedom of speech in China by censoring web content, releasing personal data leading to arrest and providing filtering hardware.
But the bloggers are still hard at work, even finding ways to circumvent attempts to render them unreadable in China. Take a look at Black and White Cat, who breaks off from an account of the Lhasa riots to offer some ways to get round the “net nanny”.
That same blog entry goes on to describe not violence by the Chinese authorities, but by Tibetans against ethnic Chinese and, indeed, that’s what the footage that has emerged from the country also appears to show. So the Chinese authorities will no doubt be pleased that it’s found its way onto the BBC’s website.
But let’s not get carried away. There have been peaceful demonstrations as well as outbursts of violent protest and Amnesty International is concerned at reports that some Chinese police and soldiers have used excessive force, including lethal force. As the Independent reports, all of this has turned the eyes of the world on Beijing’s rule in Tibet ahead of the Olympics. I can’t believe that this is the last we’ve heard of Tibet and those attempts by the Chinese authorities to control the flow of information from China will only get harder as the Games approach and thousands of journalists flood into the country.
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.