Wechat called Weixin in China is China’s version of WhatsApp and has one of the largest user bases among the ever-growing number of apps.

Mass surveillance in Tibet: Who is watching you on WeChat?

It is the only platform that they can reach each other?

In just three years since Tencent debuted it, WeChat has become one of the largest social networking platforms in China and Tibet.WeChat reportedly has 1.1 billion registered accounts and 650 million monthly active users (August 2015).

The average number of daily active users is 570 million and the daily growth in numbers of WeChat public accounts is 8000. Available in 20 different languages and equipped with seemingly endless features including voice and group chat, video call, and walkie-talkie, WeChat has emerged as a formidable force in the Chinese social networking space. More than 50 Tibetan arrested and sentenced for sharing information since 2015. Some of Tibetan prisoners are held in secret locations, with the Chinese authorities refusing to reveal any information about their location or current health condition and preventing them from contacting their relatives.

Arrested/sentenced in 2015: 19?

  • Jinpa Gyatso and Kelsang Monlam were each sentenced to one year and a half by Chinese authorities for a charge of sharing information and image to the outside of Tibet in 2015.
  • Druglo (Shokjang), writer and sentenced in 15/3/2015.
  • Gedun Gyasto (monk) was arrested for alleged political writing in 2015.
  • Jamyang(Monk) was detained for his writing and organized discussions involving others including Druglo(Sokjang) in 2015.
  • Jigme Tsultrim (Monk) and other six were detained for sending information and photographs to the recipient outside of China in 2015.
  • Lhundrub (monk) and Rithar were detained May 22, 2015, for transmitted politically sensitive writings and images (H H the Dalai Lama) over the popular WeChat.
  • Lodroe Tenzin (monk) was detained for sending information and photographs to the recipient outside of China about the situation in Tibet on 14/3/2015.
  • Namgyal Tsultrim(monk) and six other monks from Tsanden Monastery for allegedly sending information and photographs to recipients outside of China about the situation in Tibet on March 14,2015.
  • Samten Gyatso(monk) was detained for sending information on self-immolation of Sanggye Tso through Wechat to the outside of Tibet on June 4,2015.
  • Tsering Dondron was arrested on June 20, 2015, for sharing online materials pertaining to the Dalai’s 80th birthday on July 6, 2015.
  • Tsultrim Goje(monk) On March 14, 2015, public security officials detained Tsultrim Goje and six other monks from Tsanden Monastery for allegedly sending information and photographs to recipients outside of China about the situation in Tibet.
  • Tsultrim Namgyal on March 14, 2015, public security officials detained Tsultrim Namgyal and six other monks from Tsanden Monastery for allegedly sending information and photographs to recipients outside of China about the situation in Tibet.
  • Akya-kya, 35, was arrested in 2015 and given five years in 2016 for having joined a WeChat Group that discussed and exchanged information about the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday celebrations and for later having thrown a Tibetan-style outdoor picnic to celebrate the occasion.
  • Lobsang Khedup, 44, was jailed for 13 years for creating a WeChat group for local Tibetans wishing to offer prayers for the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday. He was held in Dec 2015 and had earlier served three years on unspecified charges in 2011.
  • Monk Dukdra, 50, was arrested in November 2015, later given 14 years for announcing and organising a public picnic to celebrate the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday in Ngaba in 2015.
  • Lobsang Sonam (monk) was arrested in September 2015, sentenced six years in 2016 for the charge of sharing information and images about events in Tibet on November 9, 2016.
  • Tarey Kyi was arrested and later given eight years in prison. It appears that she was sentenced for ‘inciting separatism’, a vague and overbroad provision commonly used to stifle freedom of expression and opinion in Tibet.
  • Yonten Rabgyal, 26, was arrested on March 13, 2015, over allegedly sharing information with people outside Tibet. This is Yonten’s second arrest. He had been detained before and released on payment of 5000 Yuan.
  • Arrested/sentenced in 2016: 20

Lobsang Sonam was sentenced 6 years for sharing information online in 2016

Tashi Choeying, a monk enrolled at the Ganden Jangtse monastic college in South India, vanished after being taken into custody by police on Nov. 21, 2016. He had been handed a six-year prison term on Nov. 21, 2017, for speaking to the media about self-immolation protests during his stay in India.
Two men, Samdup and Rongsher, and one woman, Lhadon, were arrested at around 10am on 30 March in Matoe County in Golog, eastern Tibet, were reprisals for their participation in discussions on Tibet’s recent elections on social media.
Tashi Wangchuk was an advocate for Tibetan language and detained on 27 Jan 2016 and sentenced five years on May 22, 2018, for inciting separatism, based on his comments in a New York Times documentary in which the man talked about the erosion of his culture and language in the tightly secured region.
Gomar Choephel, 47, was arrested in 2015 and sentenced two years on 17, Feb 2016 for sharing images of HH the Dalai Lama via social media.
Lobsang Jamyang (Pen-name: Lomik), a prolific and courageous writer was arrested in 2015 and sentenced Seven years and six months for “sharing government secrets and attempting to divide the nation” on May 9, 2016.
Kelsang Monlam and Jinpa Gyatso were arrested in 2015 and sentenced one and half year in 2016 on charged with sharing information and images online relating to the self-immolation of Sangyal Tso.
Pema wangchen was detained 15 days for singing Tibetan national anthem in public on 10 May 2016.
Gangkye drupe Kyab was detained on September 17, 2016. He had served more than four years and a half for merely exercising his right to freedom of expression and thought about his friend (Samdup) who was served four years in prison.
Sungrab Gyatso,Yeshi Sangpo and Draksang were arrested in early December 2016 for sharing information about a student demonstration on 26 November.
In December 2016, four Tibetans were detained in connection with Tashi Rabten’s self-immolation video clips. Bhenkho, Tenpa, Dorjee and Tsezin Lhamo were detained incommunicado on the suspicion that they took photos and videos of Rabten’s self-immolation on 8 December 2-16.
Jamyang Lodoe, a monk at, was taken into custody in front of the Barkham County People’s Hospital in May 2016, for his writings and online publication of politically sensitive articles and also sharing these with other Tibetans’.

Arrested/sentenced in 2017: 12

Gendun was detained for sharing pictures of HH the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan national flag on wechat in March 2017.
Shonu Palden, 40, was detained on 27th December 2017 for political objective sharing of information with outsiders.
Gonpo a monk who was arrested for suspicion of sending information about self-immolation on May 9, 2017.
Tashi Damdul, Kalsang Gyaltso, Tsering Chophel, Tenzin Namgyal, Choephel, and Tsering Norbu and Tsegyam were detained for sharing information of self-immolations in October, 2017.
Gendun Dakpa and Lobsang Sherab arrested in 2016 for allegedly ‘sharing information with outsiders’ and ‘inciting separatism.’ On June 17, 2017 the Trochu County People’s Court sentenced Dakpa, 40, a treasurer at Thangkor Socktsang Monastery to five years and Sherab, 36, a staff at the monastery’s store to four years.

Arrested/sentenced in 2018: 5

Woechuang Gyatso and unidentified monk detained on 16 April 2018 for sharing illegal photos and articles on Wechat. The unidentified monk was released after multiple interrogation sessions. Gyatso remains in detention. His current location and situation are unknown at this time.
Tsegon Gyal, 55, was arrested in December 2016 and sentenced on January 10, 2018, later charged because of a blog post he had published criticizing China for implementing a restrictive policy of “ethnic unity” in the Tibetan areas under its control.
Lodoe Gyatso, 57, who served a 21-year jail term, disappeared in January 2018 after recording and sharing a video about his plans to organize a peaceful protest. Gyatso talks about the Tibetan people’s commitment to world peace and non-violence under the guidance of the Dalai Lama. “On this day of 28 January 2018, I commit to organizing activities for world peace.”
Pema Gyatso was detained on May 25, 2018, writing political sensitive topics and reportedly released after eleven days of detention and interrogation.
Kunchok Tsephel Gopey Tsang, the co-founder/editor of the Tibetan language website Chomei (The Lamp), www.tibetcm.com, was convicted of “disclosing state secrets” on 12 November 2009, and is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence. 26 February 2018 marked the ninth anniversary of his arrest. On the basis of the available evidence, sources say he is very likely to have been imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression.

Sources: Tibet Post International- Correspondent raises Tibet at the Asia Pacific declining media freedom summit.

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