In recent weeks, several independent journalists have taken bold actions to pierce the blackout imposed by Chinese authorities in Tibet. Chinese officials have announced the formal closure to foreigners of the Tibet Autonomous Region from February 20 to March 31, 2012. They have also closed off Tibetan areas in Sichuan and Qinghai provinces that have seen protests and self-immolations. (See the Reporters Without Borders report, Tibet Cut Off From the Rest of the World).
At the same time, state-run Chinese media have placed stories that seek to portray normalcy in Tibetan areas. Chinese officials simultaneously criticize Western reporters for distorting the “real” situation in Tibet and deny them access to Tibet to judge first hand the real situation in Tibet.
The following is a list of the journalists who have recently taken creative and even risky steps to get around Chinese roadblocks and other obstacles in order to report from Tibetan areas. Included are links to their stories.
Action: Please take a moment to thank these journalists for acting with determination to provide first-hand, accurate reporting on the current situation inside Tibet. Twitter and or e-mail handles provided.
[Libération’s Philippe Grangereau] When 2,000 Tibetans will be sacrificed…
April 3, 2012
“March 17, Tongren A shepherd, father of 4 children, set himself on fire. This is the 29th self-immolation in a year. Meeting with those who challenge Chinese repression and sacrifice for a free Tibet.
When I saw that, I dove into the crowd to see what was going on” whisper Dorge, who owns a small business in Tongren. “Shocked people were screaming, others were praying. I got closer and I saw a man on the ground in flames. “As others, I took pictures” he said taking out his mobile phone. On unclear images, it was possible to see a burnt human shape on the ground, surrounded by yellow and white silk cloths. In the morning of March 17, Dorge witnessed the 29th self-immolation of a Tibetan in one year. “People did not attempt to extinguish the flames…instead, they threw ceremonial scarves around the body as gift”, he says still shocked “Recently” he continues “a rumor has spread which many people now believe to. It says that when 2000 Tibetans will be sacrificed, it will be such a sacrifice that, by a sort of divine miracle, Tibet will finally be free”
[SkyNews’ Holly Williams] China: Immolations Are Terrorism In Disguise (with video)
March 6, 2012
Dominated by Kirti Monastery, a sprawling complex that houses several hundred Buddhist monks, Aba has now been swamped by Chinese paramilitary police… After leaving Aba the Sky News crew was detained by police who forcibly searched bags and deleted files from an audio recording device. They temporarily confiscated a computer and camera, threatened to revoke Chinese visas and then followed the car for 300 kilometres (187 miles).
Contact: Twitter: @SkyHWilliams
[AP’s Gillian Wong] Under lockdown: Life inside dissident Tibetan town
March 1, 2012
Earlier this week, an Associated Press reporter managed to get through several checkpoints along the road leading to Aba, for a rare glimpse of a town that has been under lockdown for more than three years, as well as an apparent uptick in security this week ahead of sensitive anniversaries.
Contact: Twitter: @gillianwong, E-mail: [email protected]
[NPR’s Louisa Lim] On Tibetan Plateau, A Sense Of Constant Surveillance
February 22, 2012
Wednesday marks the traditional Tibetan New Year, but many Tibetans won’t be celebrating. They’ll be mourning the almost two-dozen people who set themselves on fire in the past year as a protest against Chinese rule. Eyewitnesses say the town of Aba, site of many of the self-immolations, resembles a Chinese military camp, with soldiers and riot police every few feet. NPR’s Louisa Lim traveled elsewhere on the Tibetan plateau to cover the story and sent this dispatch.
Contact: Twitter: @limlouisa
[Sydney Morning Herald’s Philip Wen] Inside story: Tibetan discontent smoulders
February 18, 2012
Stepping foot on the main street in the small town of Aba, you cannot shake the ominous feeling that your every move is being watched. Heavily armed police are set up at every intersection. Security personnel holding spiked clubs stand guard beside army trucks full of soldiers in riot gear. Roadblocks cut off the town at both ends, with every vehicle entering and leaving the town closely monitored and identity cards routinely checked.
Contact: Twitter: @PhilipWen11, E-mail: [email protected]
[McClatchy Tom Lasseter] Rare visit to remote Chinese region shows depth of Tibetan despair
February 14, 2012
McClatchy Beijing Bureau Chief Tom Lasseter snuck into Ngaba to try to verify the situation inside.
Contact: Twitter: @TomLasseter, E-mail: [email protected]
[The Guardian’s Jonathan Watts] Inside Tibet’s heart of protest (with video)
February 10, 2012
On the streets of Aba, ranks of paramilitary police armed with guns, batons and spiked clubs keep a watchful eye on Buddhist monks in crimson robes. After a 10-hour drive across the Tibetan plateau, Jonathan Watts was able to get into the town undetected and witness how the authorities are trying to extinguish dissent with fire engines, riot police and patriotic ‘re-education’ campaigns.
Contact: Twitter: @jonathanwatts
[BBC News’ Michael Bristow] China lock-down seals off Tibetan unrest (with video)
February 9, 2012
It is difficult to find out exactly what is going on. On a journey into Tibetan areas the BBC was turned back, detained and hassled by China’s security forces.
Contact: Twitter (his employer): @BBCNews
[CNN Stan Grant] CNN Crew detained amid Chinese Tibet crackdown (with video)
January 31, 2012
It’s after 10 p.m. when we see a light in the distance. We’ve traveled for more than three hours up a windy, icy road in western China.
Contact: Twitter: @StanGrantCNN