Originally published by The Economist,28 July 2010
YOUR correspondent was on leave on July 22nd, when Human Rights Watch released its report on the abuses that Chinese security forces are alleged to have committed in Tibet since the massive eruption of anti-Chinese unrest there in 2008. The 73-page document describes itself as the first comprehensive examination of the ongoing crackdown. Based largely on interviews with 200-odd Tibetans who left the region as refugees or on visits, it is a valuable contribution to an under-reported story.
China is adept at ensuring that little news of such repression gets out. In the far western province of Xinjiang, where the authorities have been cracking down since an outbreak of ethnic violence in July last year, the tactic has been to sever communications links with the outside world by mobile telephone or the internet (though restrictions have been relaxed since May). On the Tibetan plateau, the authorities in some places confiscated mobile phones and computers from monks and made it all the more difficult for foreign journalists—who are rarely welcome at the best of times—to visit. By chance I was the only foreign reporter on the spot when rioting erupted in Lhasa on March 14th 2008. I was not allowed back again until nearly two years later and then only for a frustratingly brief tour.Continue Reading →