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Tibetans face brunt of China’s restrictions on Internet: Freedom House

26 July Dharamshala : The Chinese government is tightening its control over the Internet as a growing number of people in the country use it as a potent tool to vent their grievances and fight for their legal rights.

A special report by Freedom House, a US based non-governmental organisation that conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom and human rights, confirm the worsening condition of internet accessibility in China and the risks thereof. In its latest report, it said “China’s internet controls, which were already among the most extensive in the world, have grown even more sophisticated and pervasive under the new Communist Party leadership.”

The report includes an assessment of internet access in China and how it is curtailed; a new generation of censorship and manipulation techniques that govern content; and the laws and regulations used to find and punish individuals who disobey the rules.

Ethnic minorities like Tibetans and Uighurs have particularly faced the brunt of the tightening control on the Internet, it said. “In Tibet and Xinjiang, police searched mobile handsets for banned content, and jailed dozens for using digital tools”. “Tibetans, Uighurs and other individuals and groups subject to monitoring have been frequently targeted with e-mailed programs that install spyware on the user’s device” the report cited.

Earlier after the large-scale protests in Tibet in 2008, hundreds of Tibetans were arrested and imposed harsh prison sentences for allegedly writing articles on websites.

Also in 2013, as international concern at the rising number of self-immolations in Tibet mounted, many Tibetans had been detained for allegedly inciting and publicising the protests, including by sending photographs overseas via mobile phones, The New York Times reported. Public security officials in Tibetan areas incorporated into China’s Gansu Province, have also warned local Tibetans that circulating banned content including “websites,” “emails and audio files,” and “SMS texts” would result in severe beating, according to Reporters Without Borders.

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