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DRAPAC Series: Censorship and surveillance in Tibet

Start: December 11, 2023
End: December 11, 2023
DRAPAC23 talk - Tibet

Date and Time: December 11, 3PM – 4PM Bangkok time (UTC+7)

Room: Zoom Meeting

  • Meeting ID: 894 3389 5865
  • Passcode: 788152


Under the rule of the Chinese Communist Party government, civil liberties in Tibet continue to be severely restricted. For years, Tibet has been consistently classified “not free” in Freedom House’s Freedom in the World reports, and human rights watchdogs have flagged tightening controls on online communications, increasing monitoring and surveillance, and various mechanisms of social control to nip dissent and further strengthen its control over Tibetans.

The exile community has painstakingly sought to raise awareness of the plight of Tibetans and the impact of censorship and surveillance on them. However, they continue to face immense challenges in mobilising a counter-movement to push back against an increasingly hostile environment for online freedoms.

Lobsang Gyatso Sither, Tibet Action Institute Director of Technology, shares his journey advocating for greater internet freedom in Tibet as well as the lessons, challenges, and opportunities for movement building within and in the wider Asian region. Drawing on his experience as a member of parliament, he will also discuss his experience working in the civil society space and his role as a policymaker.

There are many questions for us to consider:

  1. Has the pandemic changed the practice of censorship and surveillance in Tibet?
  2. What role can the Tibetan diaspora play in greater online freedoms?

Guest Speaker:

Lobsang Gyatso Sither is a Tibetan born in exile dedicated to increasing cyber security among Tibetans inside Tibet and in the diaspora. Working with Tibet Action Institute since 2011, he has helped to develop community-specific technologies and educational content and deploys them via training and public awareness campaigns at the grassroots level. He was a member of the Global Cyber Stewards network of Citizen Lab, University of Toronto and was on the peer-review panel for Security Planner, an easy-to-use guide with expert-reviewed advice for staying safer online.

He was named as one of the 32 innovators building a better future as part of the WIRED 2021 Smart list and was on the Advisory Board of Citizen Clinic, a public-interest cybersecurity clinic at the University of California-Berkeley from 2018-2020. For the last 15 years, he has worked closely with Tibetans communicating with Tibetans inside Tibet on digital security, censorship, and surveillance in Tibet and continues to advocate for the freedom of Tibet.

He is a member of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile and has been in this position since March 2021.

On a personal front, he manages the Tibet Documentation project which seeks to document the story of the early Tibetan refugees, the gradual rebuilding of their lives and the reestablishment of their cultural and religious institutions in exile and has published a photo journal titled; Exile: A Photo Journal 1959 – 1989.


To learn more about the topic prior to this discussion, we recommend the following resources:

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