China has once again featured amongst the top countries – along with Iran, Eriteria, and Syria – on an unimpressive list of the world’s worst jailors of journalists.
The list drawn by the New York based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), has named China, for the 12th consecutive year, as one of the most repressive regimes for free and fair journalism.
In a release last week, the CPJ said that the number of journalists imprisoned worldwide this year shot up more than 20 percent to its highest level since the mid-1990s with an increase of 34 over its 2010 tally.
Out of the 27 writers, editors, and photojournalists behind bars in China, ten are Tibetans.
The CPJ in its release noted that the Chinese government has been severe on Tibetans and “ruthlessly cracked down” on editors and writers who “sought to give voice” to the Tibetans and the Uighurs. As many as 17 of the 27 journalists jailed in China covered the oppressed ethnic groups, the release said.
CPJ expressed fear that there could be more journalists languishing in China’s prison “without coming to the notice of news organisations or advocacy groups.”
The ten Tibetans named in the list are as follows:
Dhondup Wangchen, Filmmaker
Imprisoned on March 26, 2008 and currently serving a six-year prison term, Dhondup Wangchen an independent filmmaker was charged with inciting separatism.
Wangchen along with his assistant Jigme Gyatso made a 25-minute film titled “Jigdrel” (Leaving Fear Behind) featuring interviews with ordinary Tibetans about their lives under Chinese rule in the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Kunchok Tsephel Gopey Tsang, Writer
Imprisoned on February 26, 2009, Kunchok Tsephel, an online writer is currently serving 15 years in prison on charges of disclosing state secrets.
Kunchok Tsephel ran the Tibetan cultural issues website Chomei.
Kunga Tsayang (Gang-Nyi), Freelance
Imprisoned on March 17, 2009, Kunga Tsayang is currently serving a five-year jail term on charges of revealing state secrets.
An environmental activist and photographer, Kunga Tsayang also wrote online articles under the penname Gang-Nyi (Sun of Snowland), and maintained his own website titled Zindris (Jottings). He wrote several essays on politics in Tibet, including “Who Is the Real Instigator of Protests?” shortly after the 2008 uprisings in Tibet.
Tashi Rabten, Editor
Imprisoned on April 6, 2010, Tashi Rabten is currently serving four years in jail for editing a banned magazine Shar Dungri (Eastern Snow Mountain) and publishing a collection of articles titled Written in Blood following the March 2008 uprisings in Tibet.
Dokru Tsultrim, Freelance
Imprisoned on May 24, 2010, Dokru Tsultrim, a monk at Ngaba Gomang Monastery is being held for no formal charges or trial proceedings.
Dokru Tsultrim was detained in April 2009 for alleged anti-government writings and articles in support of the Dalai Lama and for publishing a private Tibetan journal, Khawai Tsesok (Life of Snow).
Buddha, Freelance, Jangtse Donkho (Nyen), Freelance, Kalsang Jinpa, (Garmi) Freelance
The three men were arrested in 2010 for writing in the Tibetan-language magazine Shar Dungri.
Jangtse Donkho, an author and editor who wrote under the penname Nyen, meaning “Wild One,” was detained on June 21, 2010 and is currently serving a four-year jail term.
Buddha, a practicing physician and Kalsang Jinpa, who wrote under the penname Garmi, meaning “Blacksmith,” were tried together on October 21, 2010, and were given jail terms of four and three years, respectively.
The three men were charged with inciting separatism.
Jolep Dawa, Editor
Imprisoned on October 1, 2010, Jolep Dawa, a Tibetan writer and editor of a monthly Tibetan-language magazine, Durab Kyi Nga is currently serving three years in prison.
Choepa Lugyal (Meycheh), Freelance
Imprisoned on October 19, 2011, Choepa Lugyal, a publishing house employee who wrote online under the name Meycheh, is currently serving a four year jail term.
Choepa Lugyal wrote several print and online articles, including pieces for the Tibetan magazine Shar Dungri.