Look here’s our position from the get-go. We totally respect the output of Phayul (an online Tibetan-run news source reporting on Tibet) and its dedicated and committed staff.
But when something’s plain bad we’re going to call it out, especially if it’s negatively impacting on a clear and accurate understanding of Tibet. So here’s the deal.
We read their February 13 report on the recent blizzard in Eastern Tibet with some concern. Apart from the sadness on reading of the loss of animals and hardship for Tibetans, our attention was troublingly distracted by certain descriptions. How so?
In the first place Phayul is edited by Tibetans and based in Dharamsala, India (the de-facto headquarters of the Tibetan Diaspora). That being the case it’s both baffling and disappointing to note its reports consistently feature the terminology of the Chinese regime when describing Tibetan place-names and territories.
Image: original Jana Hollingsworth/Amended @tibettruth
The report was headlined as: ‘Blizzard leaves thousands of animals dead in Yushu Autonomous Prefecture’. This term comes right out of the Chinese regime’s geographical place-name committee (yes folks they have one!) and is a propaganda construction. Designed to promote the baseless claim that Tibet’s part of China. Such disinformation is calculated to mislead and deceive people, a reality the team at Phayul would be acutely aware of. So why therefore is the Tibetan editor and his reporters regularly repeating such pro-Chinese regime distortions?
We can only presume they apply this policy through a combination of the following. An ill-judged belief that in so doing reports are invested with a veneer of detached objectivity, although how uncritically repeating the lies of China’s regime achieves that status is of course debateable. Perhaps its an indication of the influence of both Voice of America (Tibetan Service) and Radio Free Asia (Tibet Section) both of which frequently include Chinese descriptions of Tibetan locations. That decision is political, as those organizations are closely affiliated and partly funded by the State Department (which has long appeased the Chinese authorities by recognizing Tibet as part of China) Lastly it maybe an example of lazy journalism, simply copying and pasting China’s official narrative that’s so corrosively available across the internet.
Whatever the reasons, we’d kinda hoped that Phayul would realize the responsibility it holds in ensuring its readers and subscribers are provided reports which aren’t tainted with the bias of Chinese propaganda terminology. But it’s not so easy to be complacent on that when reading content such as: “…the ethnic Tibetan villagers in the area,”. This syntax is widely used and promoted by the Chinese ministry of deception. Yet it was given editorial approval!
For the record and purposes of accuracy, the location in the report lies within the area of Gyêgumdo (Jyekundo being the main town) a part of Kham region of occupied Tibet.
Image: snowlionstours/amended @tibettruth
That the language medium of Phayul is in English shows its reaching out to a wider readership than the exiled Tibetan community. As such its highly regarded output has a critical role in assuring that Tibet, its cause and territories is represented accurately and factually. Regurgitating the disinformation of China’s regime when reporting on Tibetan locations fails that objective.
We again call upon its editor and reporters not to describe Tibetan territory according to the cynical dictates of China’s regime. They need to reflect upon the following question. In what way are you serving a true and authentic reportage on Tibet by replacing traditional Tibetan place-names with those fabricated by the Chinese authorities?