Voice of Tibet says China ‘jamming’ quake condolences

The Voice of Tibet (VOT) radio service slammed the Chinese authorities Thursday for jamming condolence messages from exiled Tibetans over the deadly earthquake in northwest China.

The Oslo-based VOT said it had been including messages of support, solidarity and grief since Monday with its shortwave transmissions — which are regularly jammed — in both Tibetan and Mandarin.

After all broadcasts were blocked for two days, VOT decided to isolate the condolences from its regular Tibetan news and current affairs and send them in a separate daily transmission.

«We informed the Chinese authorities of this and asked them to allow the transmissions, but again on Wednesday these special broadcasts were jammed,» said VOT’s editor-in-chief Karmna Yeshi, based in Dharamshala, the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile in northern India.

«All we wanted was to give a platform for Tibetans and other sympathisers to convey their messages to the victims of the earthquake, rescue workers and aid agencies,» Yeshi said.  «Unfortunately, our appeal to allow this on humanitarian grounds was ignored by the Chinese,» he added.

Last week’s 6.9-magnitude quake, which killed nearly 2,200 people, hit a remote region of the Tibetan plateau in northwestern China.  The Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, had appealed to the government in Beijing to let him into China for the first time in 51 years to visit the quake zone in the region of Qinghai, where he was born. So far, Beijing has declined to respond directly to the request.  The condolences transmitted by VOT included messages from the Dalai Lama, other senior lamas, Tibet support groups and individual Tibetan exiles.  VOT’s director in Oslo, Oystein Alme, said the Chinese jamming was a «grave violation» of basic human rights.

«There are on and off buttons also on Chinese radios. Why are the Chinese authorities so afraid they can not even allow the Tibetans to hear condolence messages from the outside world?» Alme said in a statement.
VOT has been airing daily programmes in both Tibetan and Chinese on short wave to Tibet and China as well as India, Bhutan and Nepal since 1996.