Chinese authorities in Malho (Chinese:Huangnan, Qinghai) have launched an operation to seize satellite broadcast receiving equipment from Tibetan homes and institutions, according to sources and official documents received by Voice of America.
According to a speech given by the local Communist Party secretary, the move is part of a government effort to stop Tibetans from viewing and listening to foreign broadcasts, which he claimed may be responsible for encouraging some of the security lapses in the recent past. Analysts speculate that the term ‘security lapses’ may be a reference to the record number of self-immolation protests that have rocked the region in the last few months of 2012, calling for the return of the Dalai Lama and for freedom in Tibet.
Photographs taken in Rebkong (Chinese: Tongren) on January 9, 2013, show a pile of satellite dishes and reception boxes being burned. Destruction of such private property appear to be designed to intimidate people into complying with the new restrictions on what they can and cannot view in their homes.
Orders issued in the region threaten Tibetans who continue to use unsanctioned equipment to watch and listen to foreign broadcasts such as VOA, RFA and others with fines and criminal offences, and offered reward to people who turn in neighbors doing so.
VOA is the only Tibetan language service to broadcast satellite TV into Tibet, and it’s coverage on Tibetan and world affairs, including extensive coverage on the self-immolations in Tibet have garnered considerable audiences in the region where most people can only access communist party controlled programming.