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Tibetans upset as China shutters popular blog site

Action against 'Luktsang Palyonor' is part of Beijing’s efforts to restrict Tibetans from using their language
A Tibetan activist stages a protest at the Chinese embassy in New Delhi on March 11, a day after the 65th Tibetan National Uprising Day against the Chinese occupation of Tibet.

A Tibetan activist stages a protest at the Chinese embassy in New Delhi on March 11, a day after the 65th Tibetan National Uprising Day against the Chinese occupation of Tibet. (Photo: AFP)

Published: April 09, 2024 09:55 AM GMT
Updated: April 09, 2024 11:25 AM GMT

Tibetans have expressed dismay over the shutdown of a popular Tibetan-language blog by Chinese authorities for alleged copyright infringement.

In a statement issued on April 2, the administrator of the website Luktsang Palyonor (Tibet Sheep), said that the authorities have blocked the website and its related WeChat blog, Radio Free Asia(RFA) reported on April 8.

“The government has completely blocked access to Luktsang Palyon,” the unnamed administrator of the website told RFA, adding that he has filed a formal appeal to the authorities for restoration of its services.

Luktsang Palyon will ensure the rights of writers are upheld once its service is restored. Still, if the request is declined, it will “fully comply with the decision of the government,” the administrator added.

The administrator also reiterated the authenticity of the content published on the Luktsang Palyon blog while emphasizing the importance of copyright protection, RFA reported.

The website launched in 2013 has been focused on topics related to the Tibetan language and culture.

It has built up a loyal community of readers who rely on it as a source for writings by Tibetans both inside and outside Tibet, RFA reported.

The website has published around 10,000 pieces of educational content, Tibetan articles, stories, music lyrics, Tibetan-Chinese translations, and audio content through the years.

Beri Jigme Wangyal, a literature professor and author at the Central University of Tibetan Studies in Varanasi, India, lamented the shutdown of the platform.

“Shutting down this platform is a matter of significant loss and concern for the Tibetan scholarly community as it has been a constant source to access content,” Wangyal said.

Reportedly, the Chinese authorities have blocked other Tibetan-language online platforms in recent years.

In 2022, the China-based language learning app Talkmate and video-streaming service Bilibili removed the Tibetan and Uyghur languages from their sites following a directive issued by Chinese authorities, RFA reported.

Later that year, the creators of a popular Tibetan-language short video-sharing app called Gang Yang shut down its operations citing financial reasons.

Rights groups allege that the move was likely prompted by a Chinese government order to close the app as authorities ratcheted up efforts to restrict Tibetans from using their language, RFA reported.

Meanwhile, Chinese authorities have continued their actions to erase Tibetan language and culture through concerted efforts, reports say.

In 2023, the famous Jokhang Temple, Potala Palace, and monasteries in the Tibetan capital Lhasa were shut down for visitors during a time when thousands thronged to the sites irking residents and tourists.

In the same year, Chinese officials had asked more than 400 teachers and students from elementary and middle schools in Ngari prefecture to denounce Dalai Lama, the supreme leader of Tibetan Buddhism, and his alleged separatist activities by pledging allegiance to China.

The officials had also asked young Tibetan college graduates to denounce Dalai Lama in the advertisement of 554 public job opportunities in Shigatse City of the Tibetan Autonomous Region for its Village Development Expansion Program in 2023.

In 2018, the Chinese authorities banned Tibetan cadres, students, and parents from participating in religious activities.

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