Old News on Unrest in Tibetan Region a Fresh Concern

The following post from Liu Zhiming (刘志明), an investigative reporter for China’s Economic Observer newspaper who writes under the pen name Liu Xiangnan (刘向南), was deleted from Sina Weibo on February 3, 2012. It was accompanied with the photo included below, a map of the Tibetan region of China’s western Sichuan province. Zhang currently has more than 36,000 followers on Weibo, according to Sina’s numbers. [More on deleted posts at the WeiboScope Search, by the Journalism and Media Studies Centre].

Xinhua News Agency information: On the afternoon of January 23, in Luhuo County (炉霍县) of the Garze Autonomous Prefecture (甘孜州) of Sichuan, under incitement by illegal elements [or "lawbreakers"] who spread the rumor that “three monks had committed self-immolation and their bodies could not be given over to the government to handle”, more than 100 Tibetan laypeople gathered in the county seat, some bearing knives. They threw stones at police on duty and at armed police, and attacked the police substation. The incident resulted in the injury of five police officers, and one death and four injuries among the lawbreakers.

Readers should note that the post, which contains only information reported by China’s official Xinhua News Agency, is dated January 25, 2012, more than one week ago. The deletion of this post on February 3 could be a sign that internet authorities are moving to more aggressively control all content relating to unrest in Tibet on social media — even official news stories — as the situation in the region grows more tense. It is worth noting that, at present, the Xinhua News Agency report of January 24 cited in Liu’s original Weibo post is still available at many news sites in China. Again, that could suggest more aggressive controls are focusing on microblogs in order to limit discussion.

Liu’s original post follows:

新华网的消息:1月23日下午,四川甘孜州炉霍县发生聚集、打砸事件,在有不法分子“将有3名僧人自焚,不能把遗体交给政府处理”造谣煽动下,上百名藏族僧俗群众在县城聚集,部分人员手持刀具,并向值勤民警和武警投掷石块,冲击公安派出所。事件造成5名公安民警受伤,不法分子1死4伤。

NOTE: All posts to The Anti-Social List are listed as “permission denied” in the Sina Weibo API, which means they were deleted by Weibo managers, not by users themselves.

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