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Reporters Without Borders called today for the foreign news media to be allowed back immediately into Tibet and nearby provinces with a Tibetan population, where the Chinese authorities have maintained a news blackout and have been conducting a massive propaganda campaign for the past six weeks.

“What is the Chinese government hiding behind Tibet’s closed doors?” the press freedom organisation asked. “Things are clearly far from being back to normal, as the authorities claim. The few reports emerging suggest a very different situation, one of arrests and a climate of fear in the cities and around the monasteries.”

Reporters Without Borders added: “The news blackout facilitates the work of the government’s propaganda machine but also the spread of rumours encouraged by certain groups abroad. We appeal to the European Union and the United Nations to try to get the government to allow foreign reporters to travel freely in Tibet and the neighbouring regions.”

The organisers of the Beijing Olympic Games yesterday announced that a press trip to cover an attempt to take the Olympic torch to the top of Everest was being postponed indefinitely. Reporters were supposed to have gone to the Tibetan capital of Lhasa first to get adjusted to the altitude, but the Lhasa stage of the trip has been cancelled altogether because of “meteorological” problems, the authorities said. “Only coverage of the torch relay will be allowed,” an official said.

No journalist has been allowed to move about freely in Tibet and the regions with a Tibetan population since 14 March. Two press trips were organised by the authorities to Lhasa and to Labrang monastery in Gansu province. Tourists have been banned from visiting the Himalayan region until further notice.

Reporters Without Borders has learned of about 50 violations of the right of foreign journalists to move about freely in the Tibetan regions since mid-March.

The authorities have waged a massive propaganda campaign designed to portray Tibetans as “rioters” and “terrorists.” The official news agency Xinhua’s dispatches talk above all of a return to normal and the discovery of weapons in Buddhist temples. Xinhua announced that the authorities have found firearms, dynamite and satellite dishes in 11 monasteries in Gansu.

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Chinese Premier, Wen Jiabao has accused the Tibetan spiritual leader of masterminding the protests — which culminated in a riot on Friday in Tibet’s capital, Lhasa — from his base in the Northern Indian town of Dharamsala, where he lives in exile.

Prayer Flags, HHDL Residence, Dharamsala

Prayer Flags outside HHDL Residence, Dharamsala, Northern India, 2007

© CCC 2007

“We are in the midst of a fierce struggle involving blood and fire, a life and death struggle with the Dalai Clique,” Tibet’s Communist Party secretary, Zhang Qingli, told a teleconference of the region’s government and Party leaders.

“Leaders of the whole country must deeply understand the arduousness, complexity and long-term nature of the struggle,” he said in remarks carried online by the China Tibet News.

Photo of children looking on toward dead bodies of protesters in Tibet

Image from FreeTibet.Org

I can’t believe in this world, we still face these crises.

I can’t believe that we fight and kill like people

are pawns and don’t matter.

The stench of death lies over the land. The oppressed are hungry

and tired, and the oppressors fat and restless.

What is it all for?

What is any of it for?

An acre of another man’s land?

A barrel of oil, slick black blood

languidly fueling the heart

of this terrible machine?

Authorities have fired an official in central China after city inspectors beat to death a man who filmed their confrontation with villagers, China’s Xinhua news agency reports.

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The killing has sparked outrage in China, with thousands expressing outrage in Chinese Internet chat rooms, often the only outlet for public criticism of the government.  The incident has also alarmed advocates of press freedom, who say municipal authorities had no right to attack a man for simply filming them.

Police have detained 24 municipal inspectors and are investigating more than 100 in the death of Wei Wenhua, a 41-year-old construction company executive, Xinhua reported on Friday.

The swift action by officials reflects concerns that the incident could spark larger protests against authorities, whose heavy-handed approach often arouses resentment.

On Monday Wei happened on a confrontation in the central Chinese province of Hubei between city inspectors and villagers protesting over the dumping of waste near their homes.

A scuffle developed when residents tried to prevent trucks from unloading the rubbish, Xinhua said.

When Wei took out his cell phone to record the protest, more than 50 municipal inspectors turned on him, attacking him for five minutes, Xinhua said. Wei was dead on arrival at a Tianmen hospital, the report said.

Qi Zhengjun, chief of the urban administration bureau in the city of Tianmen, lost his job over the incident, Xinhua reported Friday.

The beating was condemned online. “It’s no longer news that urban administrators enforce the law with violence,” said an editorial on the news Web site Northeast News, according to The Associated Press.

“But now someone has been beaten to death on site. It has brought us not surprise, but unspeakable anger.”

Chen Yizhong, a columnist on Xinhua’s Web site, asked why violence by city inspectors is allowed to continue. “Cities need administration, but urban administrators need to be governed by law first,” he wrote.

An international press freedom group, Reporters Without Borders, protested the killing.

“Wei is the first ‘citizen journalist’ to die in China because of what he was trying to film,” the group said in a statement.

“He was beaten to death for doing something which is becoming more and more common and which was a way to expose law-enforcement officers who keep on overstepping their limits.”

Doing my rounds of the news tonight, I began to fall into a deep despair as I saw Burma and the monks slipping slowly from the pages and falling into obscurity. Anger washes over me and I am incensed that we are not taking more note of this. Thousands of monks have been injured and removed from their monasteries. The military is still raiding monasteries, still removing monks from hospitals and other places.

And what are we doing?

Writing about Britney Spears, Baseball, or how much Ford sales have plummeted.

I’m sorry… but some things are more important. Even on the BBC website it talks how Clinton is now the lead fundraiser (shame it’s all going to be wasted on bullshit political campaigning and not humanitarian work… )

Anyway, that being said, at least the BBC had a report tonight:

“”I’m really scared,” said one woman when she was sure no-one else could hear.

“I don’t want to be the next one to get a knock on the door from the soldiers in the middle of the night,” another man said.

They have good reason to be concerned. Thousands of monks and others who led the marches of the past few weeks have now been arrested – and these arrests are still continuing.

Most are picked up under cover of nightfall and corralled into large, heavily-guarded buildings on the outskirts of the city, such as the Government Technical Centre and the National Library.

The government has yet to confirm any details about the names or numbers of detainees, and families are left unsure whether their loved ones are imprisoned, dead or in hiding.”

More here:

BBC Asia

From the Democratic Voice of Burma:

“A monk being treated at Rangoon general hospital for gunshot wounds, caused when soldiers fired on protesters in Sule last Tuesday, was moved by government officials to an unknown location, according to a witness.

The monk, assumed to be aged around 30, was sent to Rangoon general hospital’s intensive care unit with a gunshot wound to his arm. Two members of the National League for Democracy in Thingangyun township, Ko Mya Than Htike and U Htun Shwe, and another unknown civilian were also sent to the hospital.
Ko Mya Than Htike’s wife told DVB that all four patients were shot and wounded during the government guards’ violent crackdown on protesters near Sule Pagoda on September 27 and were later taken to the hospital by civilian bystanders. She said the monk was seen being taken away from the hospital ward by police officers on Saturday morning.
“Now the monk is gone. We don’t where he was taken to. He had a plaster-cast on his arm where he has the gun-shot wound. It was police officials who took him away,” said Ko Mya Than Htike’s wife.
She added that her husband and the other two patients remained at the hospital under the close supervision of government officials to prevent information on their situation from reaching the media.
“The rest of them, including my husband, are still there in hospital. We were only allowed to see him briefly after his arrival at the hospital and the next day. The officials said they don’t want the news to spread.”
She said that Ko Myint Than Htike suffered leg injuries from the bullet wound and is still not able to walk while U Htun Shwe was shot in his arm. The unknown civilian, who could only be identified as an older male, assumed to be over 50, had a bone in his leg shattered by a bullet and faces the possibility of losing his leg.”

From Here: Democratic Voice of Burma

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Many monks were beaten, shot, and injured… so where are they taking them now?

And this just from Yahoo:

“Authorities have acknowledged that government troops shot dead nine demonstrators and a Japanese cameraman in Yangon[Rangoon]. But witness accounts range from several dozen deaths to as many as 200.

“We do believe the death toll is higher than acknowledged by the government,” Shari Villarosa, the top U.S. diplomat in Myanmar, told The Associated Press Monday. “We are doing our best to get more precise, more detailed information, not only in terms of deaths but also arrests.”

Villarosa said her staff had visited up to 15 monasteries around Yangon and every single one was empty. She put the number of arrested demonstrators — monks and civilians — in the thousands.

“I know the monks are not in their monasteries,” she said. “Where are they? How many are dead? How many are arrested?”

She said the true death toll may never be known in a Buddhist country where bodies are cremated.”

Makes me physically sick. I tremble with feelings I simply cannot express. Why is it always our red-robed brothers and sisters who pay the price for their peaceful protests? In Tibet it was (and is) still the same… and here again it is being repeated. I feel so shackled myself. As if these blog entries are nothing. A pathetic attempt at keeping information flowing. At Yelling my Compassion from my own corner of the world. What can I do? What can I do? I have donated to the Irrawaddy News Magazine. I have donated to Amnesty for this cause specifically. I blog daily, I pray. I wear red… but there are thousands who have been taken and are suffering countless tortures for a freedom we take for granted.

And it makes me distraught.

From the BBC:

“Thousands of monks detained in Burma’s main city of Rangoon will be sent to prisons in the far north of the country, sources have told the BBC.
About 4,000 monks have been rounded up in the past week as the military government has tried to stamp out pro-democracy protests.
They are being held at a disused race course and a technical college.
Sources from a government-sponsored militia said they would soon be moved away from Rangoon.

The monks have been disrobed and shackled, the sources told BBC radio’s Burmese service. There are reports that the monks are refusing to eat.”

Dead Monk

Despite assurances that monks were not killed, the above image from the Democratic Voice of Burma would show otherwise.

More here:

BBC Asia-Pacific

Democratic Voice of Burma

I couldn’t believe the news report when I heard that a team of scientists were comparing satellite imagery of Burma/Myanmar before and after the rise of the military state. Finally, I thought, someone using technology how it should be. They have enough of this data after all. Images like the one below are being compared to show how military installations have increased in size and how some villages have been entirely removed…

This image, from the American Association for the Advancement of Science shows a small settlement in 2004 and the same area in 2007 with all structures removed. They currently hope to be able to document the increase in military forces within the city. Human rights abuses documented in such an amazing way… finally, perpetrators cannot hide or maintain the lie.

More information can be found here: AAAS or from the National Geographic News

Than when I saw this image of Kenji Nagai. Shot to death indescriminately by a Burmese soldier. So far, no one is intervening. Is this going to be another “never again”?

Kenji Nagai

I want to become a professional photojournalist. I don’t know how or where or anything. I just know that I want to document the injustices of the world and perhaps like Nagai-Sama, capture them so others may know the truth.

At least his terrible and unnecessary death was captured on film–a fitting tribute in itself–so that even in his death, he is fighting to help others.