Tibetan TV Dishes Pulled

Tibetans cite a new government effort to control what news they hear.

tibet-satellite--305.jpg Satellite dishes confiscated and destroyed by authorities in Labrang, Amdo, May 20, 2009.
Photos courtesy of Invisble Tibet.

KATHMANDU—Chinese authorities have begun to remove satellite dishes in a Tibetan-populated region of China in an effort to block access to foreign broadcasts, according to Tibetan sources.

Tibetan-language broadcasts by Radio Free Asia and Voice of America appear to be particular targets of the campaign, one source said.

“Beginning in April of this year, the local broadcasting department in Kanlho [in Chinese, Gannan] prefecture [of Gansu province] dispatched staff to the counties to install cable lines and to pull down the satellite dishes used by local Tibetans to listen to foreign broadcasts like RFA and VOA Tibetan programs,” a Tibetan woman in the Labrang area of Kanlho said.

“They also installed cable lines for listening to government-approved programs,” the woman added, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Local Tibetans were told by officials that they were carrying out the directives of central and provincial level authorities,” she said.

“They distributed copies of the letters issued by the government.”

A Gannan prefecture document obtained by RFA, citing State Council document #129, describes what it calls “unprecedented efforts to collect satellite dishes” to restrict access to long-distance broadcasts in Gansu province, a site of repeated Tibetan protests against Chinese rule during the past year.

Anyone failing to comply with government directives to remove the dishes would be “dealt with in accordance with law,” the memo said.

Begun in 2000

Tibetan writer Woeser, in the June 15 entry of her blog “Invisible Tibet,” noted efforts “as early as 2000” by China’s government to block broadcasts by Radio Free Asia and Voice of America.

Hundreds of jamming towers have been built in Tibetan regions for this purpose, she wrote.

“The Chinese government is now forcing Tibetan monks to pull down satellite dishes so that they cannot listen to RFA and VOA broadcasts. In May this year, the Chinese authorities carried out the policy vigorously in Kanlho.”

“In their place, the local Tibetans are forced to listen to [state-controlled] local TV programs connected through land lines,” she wrote.

Originally reported by Lhumbum Tashi for RFA’s Tibetan service. Tibetan service director: Jigme Ngapo. Translations by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.


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