World Press Freedom Day

“In order for the international community, and especially the more than one billion Chinese people who do not have access to uncensored information, to find out what is really going on in Tibet, it would be tremendously helpful if representatives of the international media undertook investigations [to Tibet].”

The Dalai Lama highly values the scrutiny and independence of press freedom. He has regularly said that, if he was ever able to return to Tibet, he hopes representatives of the international media would accompany him.

China ranks 176th out of 180 countries in the 2015 World Press Freedom Index, according to Reporters Without Borders. Access to Tibet is highly restricted for foreign journalists, except on infrequent, tightly-scripted official tours. Central Tibet (the Tibet Autonomous Region) is closed without special permission (rarely granted) and foreign journalists have been consistently prevented from entering Tibetan areas of Kham and Amdo (Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu and Yunnan), though no permission is technically required to travel there.

Journalists that visit and try to report from these parts of Tibet are routinely harassed and detained by the Chinese authorities, and the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China has condemned Beijing’s aggressive attempts to prevent reporting on the region.

In 2012 Jonathan Watts of the Guardian was able to get into Aba, in eastern Tibet, undetected and witness how the authorities are trying to extinguish dissent with fire engines, riot police and patriotic ‘re-education’ campaigns; exactly what the Chinese authorities don’t want journalists to see.

Freedom House rank media freedom in Tibet as the “worst of the worst” stating, “the security clampdown established after an uprising in 2008 was sustained and increasingly extended to Tibetan areas outside the Tibet Autonomous Region. Over the course of the year, a total of 84 Tibetans set themselves on fire to protest Chinese Communist rule. The authorities responded with communications blackouts, “patriotic education” campaigns, travel restrictions, and intrusive new controls on monasteries. Despite the repressive atmosphere, many Tibetans expressed solidarity with self-immolators, protested language policies, and quietly maintained contact with the exile community.”