“This is in direct reaction to the spate of self- immolations in Tibet”
In Tibet, whenever there is some disturbance or protest, the first reaction of the Chinese authorities is always to censor information, for example by blocking radio waves or Internet access. [Editor’s Note: the Internet is closely monitored in Tibet; users are required to register their details with the authorities]. This time, it’s a campaign against satellite dishes, which seems to be in direct reaction to the spate of self-immolations that has spread throughout Tibet. [Editors Note: More than 90 Tibetans have set themselves on fire to protest China’s rule since 2009. The frequency of self-immolations has escalated this year, with 28 in November alone.] The authorities’ aim is to quell unrest, as images of these incidents are regularly leaked abroad, and then broadcast on satellite television stations. These are strong, striking images. Notes left by some of those who set themselves on fire suggest that they were inspired by seeing others do this.To understand the reason the authorities are cracking down in this region and not in other Tibetan areas, you have to go back to 2008, when the bulk of protests took place there. In the wake of these protests, the government's response was most violent in Tso-Ngon.“There’s a joke among Tibetans: ‘To get the real news, watch Chinese news, and then believe the opposite’”Tibetans living in Tibet tell me that television and radio stations broadcast in from abroad are a lifeline. TV is now increasingly replacing radio. Voice of America’s program in Tibetan is quite popular, as is the Tibetan government in exile’s TV station. Tibetans say that one of the main benefits of receiving satellite TV is that they are able to see the Dalai Lama. Meanwhile, they find state television channels useless. There’s a joke among Tibetans: “To get the real news, watch Chinese news, and then believe the opposite.”At the moment, it’s become very dangerous to talk to anyone inside Tibet. People are being sent to prison for disseminating information about self-immolations. I think the banning of satellite dishes clearly reveals where China is going wrong with Tibet - the authorities wrongly believe that the cause of unrest lies outside Tibet. When the Chinese government realizes that the cause lies with their wrongful policies, only then will Tibet see a lasting peace.