Tibetan ‘Web Surfer’ Detained

A Tibetan youth is detained for viewing restricted content at an Internet cafe.

2009-08-24
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Potala-305.jpg Chinese military trucks sit at the base of the Potala Palace in the Tibetan capital Lhasa, March 21, 2008.
AFP

KATHMANDU—Chinese authorities have detained a Tibetan youth in the regional capital, Lhasa, for viewing restricted political information online, according to Tibetan sources.

The accessed material included essays on Tibetan independence, as well as descriptions and photos of Tibetan protests against Chinese rule that rocked the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and western provinces of China last year.

“A Tibetan youth named Pasang Norbu was detained at about 1 p.m. on Aug. 12 for surfing ‘reactionary’ Web sites,” a source in Lhasa said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“He was detained at a cyber café called Zhijian Wang, on the Tsangral Road in Lhasa,” the source said. “The Web monitoring unit of the Lhasa Public Security Bureau was tracking him, and they informed the local criminal investigation unit, which rushed to the cyber café and took him away.”

A report by the detaining authorities accused Norbu of viewing  seven photos of Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, four images of the banned Tibetan national flag, and the Web sites of five different "reactionary" groups, the source said.

The report also said that Norbu had violated Article 25, Subclause 1, of the People's Republic of China Public Order Administration Punishment Law by downloading the restricted material.

Norbu, 19, is a resident of the Tren Kon subdivision of Lhasa city, according to the report.

No evidence was found that Norbu was in direct contact with “outside reactionary groups,” the report said, but it added that an official investigation was under way.

Reached for comment, the Lhasa Public Security Bureau said only that the matter was “not clear,” and referred callers to other departments.

Phone calls to those offices rang unanswered.

Original reporting by 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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