China: Increased control on music publishing in Tibet
New measures by Chinese authorities involve significantly increased controls in the Tibetan music publishing, reported Human Rights Watch on 13 July 2012.
In the lead-up to the 18th Party Congress, due to take place in late 2012, restrictions on news, media, and communications in Tibet have been stepped up by Chinese authorities.
The measures also involve increased control on internet use, text messages, phone ownership, and photocopying, as well as intensified government propaganda through new tv channels, village education sessions, film showings, distribution of books, and the provision of satellite television receivers with fixed reception to government channels.
“Authorities attempt to seal off Tibet from outside information,” wrote Human Rights Watch:
“The measures appear to be an effort to cut off Tibetans in China from news not subjected to the government’s domestic monopoly on information. They are presented officially as an attempt to prevent the views of the exiled Dalai Lama and his followers from reaching Tibetans inside China, particularly those living in rural areas.”
The new restrictions, described in the official Renmin Wang media outlet on 31 May 2012, as key to maintaining stability and national security, aim to “ensure the absolute security of Tibet’s ideological and cultural realm,” according to Tibet Autonomous Region Party Secretary Chen Quanguo in an interview of 27 June 2012.
Songs and ringtones banned
In December 2008 Chinese state media reported that 59 arrests had been made in Lhasa to combat “rumor-mongering,” and that five arrests had been carried out in connection with the commercial distribution of “reactionary songs”.
In 2010, authorities banned ringtones characterized as “separatist,” according to reports, and in early 2011, a number of Tibetan songs were banned and some Tibetans found with those songs on computer drives or on their phones were detained, according to the US-based broadcaster, Radio Free Asia.
These bans have also been applied to songs and music videos that have no obvious political content. In 2011, for example, authorities banned a video of a rap song by a Tibetan exile in Switzerland called the ‘Shapaley Song’, named after a Tibetan meat pastry, which features exiles saying “don’t worry, please take care” to Tibetans in Tibet.
“Under the guise of combating ‘separatism’ the Chinese government is blatantly violating Tibetans’ rights to the freedom of expression, religion, culture, and movement. The authorities have a responsibility to uphold public order, but that cannot be used as a blanket justification for the kinds of measures to limit communications that the Chinese authorities are imposing in Tibet,” wrote Sophie Richardson, Human Rights Watch’s China director
Human Rights Watch – 13 July 2012:
China: Attempts to Seal Off Tibet from Outside Information