On account of Facebook’s deletion of information more than 20,000 people signed a petition

(Translated from Radio Free Asia’s Tibetan Service program, Woeser’s Forum, broadcast on February 7, 2015)

On account of the deletion of information from my Facebook account, the International Campaign for Tibet, based in the United States capital of Washington, D.C. launched a petition campaign to protest it. This showed that the issue of Facebook’s deletion of information is not insignificant or violent or bloody.

On the contrary, it is a video footage and related report on 23 year old Tibetan monk, Kalsang Yeshi, who lost his life after committing self-immolation in front of a police station on December 23. Therefore, the International Campaign for Tibet on January 5 launched an online petition campaign not only wanting explanation from Facebook for the deletion of the information, but also for the respect of freedom of expression.

The petition campaign recalled that on December 23, Tibetan writer Tsering Woeser had posted a video and reported on the self-immolation by a monk in Tibet, and that within hours Facebook had deleted it. The reason Facebook gave was that it violated the social media channel’s community standards.

The text of the petition said: what’s actually being violated is Woeser’s freedom of expression and millions of Tibetans’ basic human right to have their suffering known by the world. Censoring the truth about China’s oppression of Tibetans — so severe and pervasive that some see setting themselves on fire as their only way to be heard — is wrong and shameful.

The signature campaign petition said that Facebook had in the past become a forum for exchanging information in freedom by millions of people. China’s blocking of Facebook indicates that this social network forum had not agreed to the censorship applied by the Chinese Communist Government. However, the revelation of the act of deleting video, etc. of a Tibetan self-immolation is of concern to those who are denied freedom.

The signature campaign text emphasized that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg needs to know that moral values such as free speech and respect for Tibetans’ lives are more important than profits. If he thinks people of conscience like you won’t protest censorship, he needs to think again.

It is encouraging that the International Campaign for Tibet had launched a petition campaign on the site of a petition hosting website Care2 that is concerned about human rights and peace. According to reports, within three weeks, they garnered 20,459 signatures from over 130 countries. On January 27, ICT President Matteo Mecacci and Care2 Vice President visited headquarters of Facebook in California and delivered the petition. International Campaign for Tibet’s President said that on behalf of all those who signed the petition they conveyed to Facebook their feeling that such actions to silence Tibetan voices cannot be tolerated. Additionally, they hoped that Facebook will not use the excuse of content of photos to silence voices expressing Tibetan grievances and criticism of the Chinese Communist Government.

Actually, this is similar to the content of the letter that I had written to Facebook. If Facebook does such censoring and delete information then those who offer their lives through self-immolation and those who photograph without consideration of the risk would be sacrificing lives for no reason. Is this Facebook’s desire? Also, one netizen said that these people have made public true information. Although such truthful information is hard to accept, deleting would not make it go away totally.

Also, there is something that needs to be heard from writer Emily Parker from New York who had done a posting on Facebook. She said: Facebook will likely never be able to satisfy Chinese censors. China is a really attractive market, and companies like Facebook would love to get in. But there would be a huge P.R. backlash if they decided to play by Chinese censorship rules.

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