Empowering digital Tibet: An interview with activist Lhadon Tethong

Mittwoch, 09.12.2015, 13:57 Uhr | Kategorie(n): China allgemein, Menschenrechte

Rignam Wangkhang for IFEX

Lhadon Tethong is one of the most prominent and recognizable leaders in the Tibetan freedom movement. She first became a spokeswoman on Tibetan issues after her speech at the 1998 Tibetan Freedom Concerts inspired a new generation of Tibetan supporters. Lhadon then went on to serve as Executive Director of Students for a Free Tibet, where she led a high-profile global campaign to condemn China’s rule of Tibet in the lead-up to and during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. In 2011, she was awarded the first annual James Lawson Award for Nonviolent Achievement by the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict.

A Tibetan born in Canada, she recently founded the Tibet Action Institute, which combines digital communication tools with strategic nonviolent action to build and strengthen the Tibet movement for human rights and freedom.

In this interview, Lhadon speaks with Rignam Wangkhang about her work, Chinese cyber surveillance, and the future of digital rights in Tibet.

According to Freedom House’s recent ‚Freedom on the Net‘ 2015 report, China was the year’s worst abuser of internet freedom. How would you rank Tibet?

In terms of digital rights in Tibet, we just have to assume it’s the worst of the worst. When we compare the ability of a Chinese person to speak their mind to that of a Tibetan in Tibet, the cost for Tibetans, and the surveillance over Tibetans, is usually much higher. China is extremely paranoid about any challenge to its authority from Tibet.

What is the general situation with respect to surveillance?

Tibetans inside Tibet understand surveillance. Whether it’s online or not, they have been living with unbelievably restrictive and pervasive surveillance inside central Tibet, which the Chinese government calls the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR). Outside of the TAR, and in most of the areas of historical Tibet that had been absorbed into the Chinese provinces of Qinghai, Sichuan, Yunnan and Gansu, Tibetans have faced increasing restrictions and surveillance in recent years.

Read more at ifex.org

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