May 05, 2009

Tibet: World Press Freedom Day Observed

Active ImageAround fifty Tibetan and Indian journalists gathered together to jointly observe World Press Freedom Day.



Below is an article published by Phayul:

Some 50 Indian and Tibetan journalists, including a handful of Tibetan analysts, participated in an interactive function this morning [Sunday May 3rd] organized by the Association of Tibetan Journalists (ATJ).

ATJ, in its press release, said it organized the event to join “the voice against suppression of freedom of press on the World Press Freedom Day,” and to call on the Chinese government to create conducive atmosphere for journalists to report on the situation in Tibet.

In the statement, ATJ said several Tibetan writers and journalists were detained by China following last year’s anti-China protests in Tibet.

“Reports from Tibet and China of Beijing's crackdown on the media clearly show the extent to which a government can go in shutting up journalists who often become the victims of government atrocities,” ATJ president Tashi Wangchuk said.

“The Association of Tibetan Journalists, therefore, calls on world leaders of respective countries and China in particular, to release all those journalists imprisoned and stop committing crimes against the media,” Wangchuk added.

“ATJ strongly feels the need to examine the situation in Tibet at this stage,” Wangchuk said, adding “Despite the claims by China that situation in Tibet is normal reports of undeclared martial law and an atmosphere of constant fear gripping the region continue to emerge out.”

China ranked among world's worst-rated states against press freedom in a study released by media rights group Freedom House on Friday [1 May 2009]. Meanwhile, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), also placed China among its list of "10 worst countries to be a blogger," naming Myanmar, Iran, Syria, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Tunisia, China, Turkmenistan and Egypt to its "dishonor roll."

Wangchuk said Tibetan journalists were ready to visit the Tibetan areas to observe the situation there independently. “We had expressed our willingness to do so. So far, we have received no response from Chinese government," Wangchuk said.

Tashi argued that if the claims by Chinese government of Tibetans enjoying in Tibet were to believed then there should not be any problem for China to allow independent international media into the region.

Speaking on behalf of the local Indian journalists from Dharamsala Press Club, Suresh Khatta, correspondent for Indian Express, commended ATJ’s initiative in bringing the two media closer together. Khatta also stressed on the need to forge similar collaboration between the two media groups in the future.

Wangchuk said the expense for the event was sponsored by ATJ’s long time friend Ms Satsuki Takahashi of Norbu Create, Japan.

The Association of Tibetan Journalists, based in Dharamsala, was formed in 1997 and has over 40 members to date.

World Press Freedom Day is a day designated by the United Nations to raise awareness of the importance of freedom of the press and to remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression enshrined under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993, the day is celebrated each year on 3 May, the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek, a statement of free press principles put together by African newspaper journalists in 1991.