Tibetan man detained for storing photos of Dalai Lama, Tibetan flag on Wechat

DHARAMSHALA, MAR. 8: A Tibetan man has reportedly been detained by Chinese authorities in Sershul County for storing photos of the exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama and the banned Tibetan national flag in his Wechat account.

Gendun from Sershul County in the Kardze Prefecture, Sichuan Province has been detained by Chinese authorities for storing the photos of the banned Tibetan national flag and the photo of the Tibetan leader reviled by China as a “separatist’.

Gendun was severely beaten and held in a Chinese prison in Sershul County, according to a source cited by Voice of Tibet. The same source also said that the area has since come under intensified surveillance and restriction and that local Tibetans are apprehensive of passing information through Wechat.

WeChat is a text and voice messaging communication service developed by Tencent in 2011 and is widely used by Tibetans inside and outside Tibet. The Chinese authorities have used the micro-messaging app to make arrests in the past. It has become the most used mode of communication through its walkie-talkie style messaging facility. However, activists and experts fear that the app’s voice-messaging service enables security officials to monitor user’s movements in real time and access other information shared via the app.

The tension and level of restriction leading up to the ‘Tibetan Uprising Day’ which falls on March 10 is palpable with Chinese authorities bent on avoiding a repeat of the 2008 Tibet uprising that saw protests all over Tibet. The Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) is virtually blocked off from the outside world with Tibetans from other regions denied entry into the highly restricted area.

Phayul,March 08/ 2017

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