* Above left: phonecam snapshots of protests in Amdo, Tibet, over the weekend; at right, phonecam video of the same.
* According to Shanghaiist (and now, mainstream news outlets), YouTube was blocked in China over the weekend, likely because of content related to the flood of pro-Tibetan-sovereignty protests in Tibet and elsewhere:
International news channels such as CNN and BBC are also getting routinely blacked out. While we think this is a really poor way to deal with all the shit that's going on, we have been there many, many times, and survived. Time to turn on your VPN again, people! An
As Tibet transitioned into total lockdown and videos of the violent situation proliferated on YouTube, people began noticing Saturday afternoon in China that the video-sharing website could not be accessed. Tech blogger Rick Martin on the CNET Asia Little Red Blog has done some tests which confirm what many have assumed:
* Rebecca McKinnon at Global Voices has an excellent roundup of reactions in the Chinese blogosphere:
For those living in the West who didn't realize that there's little sympathy for Tibet independence among ethnic Chinese in the PRC, this blog post on Global Voices will be a shocker. John Kennedy has translated chatter from Chinese blogs and chatrooms that generally runs along the lines of: those ungrateful minorities, we give them modern conveniences and look how they thank us… where have we heard this before? Reuters has a roundup on the Washington Post that begins: "a look at Chinese blogs reveals a vitriolic outpouring of anger and nationalism directed against Tibetans and the West."
Dave has done more than translate: he points out that this Tibet situation is a real challenge to all people who believe that the Internet can help foster free speech and bring about better global understanding. Here is his challenge to all of us…
* On Friday, protest in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, erupted into violence when police, army troops, and ethnic Tibetan demonstrators clashed. Some accounts place the death toll at 30, some at 100, some at 300. It's hard to separate rumor from truthful first-hand account, and hard to know exactly how many have been killed or injured, because communication in the region is so difficult. Foreign journalists are not allowed in, unaccompanied by official escorts. Internet and phone communications are routinely blocked by Chinese authorities when unrest occurs; some blogging tourists in Lhasa wanting to upload photos of what they witnessed have reported the presence of authorities inside 'net cafes. Pro-Tibetan-sovereignty sites like TCHRD, SFT, and Phayul are posting first-person accounts online. Some of those reports are difficult to independently confirm, given the circumstances. The website of the Central Tibetan Administration (part of the government in exile, led by the Dalai Lama, based in India) posts this update.
* The unrest spread this weekend to regions outside Lhasa: police and protesters also clashed in China's Sichuan and Qinghai provinces, and Gansu province, all of which have large ethnic Tibetan populations. On Saturday…
Demonstrations erupted for the second consecutive day in the city of Xiahe in Gansu Province, where an estimated 4,000 Tibetans gathered near the Labrang Monastery. Local monks had held a smaller protest on Friday, but the confrontation escalated Saturday afternoon, according to witnesses and Tibetans in India who spoke with protesters by telephone.
Residents in Xiahe, reached by telephone, heard loud noises similar to gunshots or explosions. A waitress described the scene as "chaos" and said many injured people had been sent to a local hospital.
* China's government has declared a "people's war" against the Tibetan independence movement, in "propaganda and security" measures, and has implemented what amounts to martial law in Lhasa.
"Fight a people's war to oppose separatism and protect stability … expose and condemn the malicious actions of these forces and expose the hideous face of the Dalai clique to broad daylight," senior regional and security officials announced after a meeting, according to the official Tibet Daily on Sunday.
* China's governor in Tibet promises harsh consequences for protest participants who do not turn themselves in by Tuesday.
"Whether intentionally or unintentionally, some kind of cultural genocide is taking place," said the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader. He was referring to China's policy of encouraging the ethnic Han majority to migrate to Tibet, restrictions on Buddhist temples and re-education programs for monks.
* George Bush removed China from a human rights blacklist just three days before the bloodshed in Lhasa.
UPDATE: Boing Boing reader Adam writes,
I am visiting Beijing on business, and staying at a hotel that caters
to Westerners. There have been reports that China was loosening
controls on the media ahead of the Olympic games, in order to give
visitors the impression that the media is unrestricted, but that is
not the case in the last day.
While watching CNN in my hotel room, the station goes dark during the
top-of-the-hour news flash on the riots, then returns when the
synopsis of "what's to come" is given about other stories, and then
goes dark again while the coverage switches to Lhasa.
Coverage returns with the anchor asking users to send in their
first-hand reports to ireport.com, after all mention of the incident
is over. Same results for BBC as well.
The China Daily newspaper I grabbed from the lounge has a small
article on the bottom of the front page, titled "Dalai Lama behind
sabotage", and states that his "clique" has "organized, premeditated,
and masterminded" the beatings, looting, and arson, which "has aroused
the indignation of, and is strongly condemned by, the people of all
ethnic groups in Tibet."
* Reports estimate that 20,000 Chinese troops have now been deployed to Lhasa (thanks, Christal).
* UPDATE 2 (8pm PT Sunday March 16): BB reader Nick Dobson says,
Besides Youtube, it appears The Guardian and Boingboing have been added to the blocked list in China. ([I'm in] Suzhou, Jiangsu, China)