With Games nearing end, RFA Tibet service reporter still denied visa

Hong Kong, August 20, 2008–Despite appeals from his employer and questions from the International Olympic Committee, Chinese authorities have continued to bar Radio Free Asia reporter Dhondup Gonsar from traveling to Beijing to cover the Games. Gonsar, an American citizen of Tibetan ethnicity, was one of two journalists for the U.S. government-funded broadcaster whose applications were approved in writing by the IOC in July 2007, RFA said.

“We’ve asked for more information on this case, which we are told is pending,” IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said Tuesday in response to CPJ’s e-mail request for information about Gonsar’s visa. “No more information has been forthcoming.” Gonsar and RFA’s headquarters in Washington said they, too, received no substantive response from authorities to their requests for information.

“It’s been two weeks since Dhondup Gonsar’s visa situation was publicly brought to the attention of the IOC and China. For his case to still be pending, as the Games near their conclusion insults the integrity of the Olympics. When the IOC awarded China the Games in 2001, both pledged there would be no restrictions on reporters covering the Games,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator.

CPJ first raised Gonsar’s case on August 8, calling for the issue to be resolved quickly. Gonsar remains in Hong Kong, where he is reporting on the Games for RFA’s Tibetan service. Tibet remains an issue of concern for China after ethnic rioting in March. In an interview with CPJ, he said that neither his nor any of RFA’s work on the issue amounted to anything other than journalism.  

“By refusing to let me in, China is really missing a chance to show its openness, particularly after the events in Tibet in March,” Gonsar said.

RFA’s Mandarin reporter, Jill Ku Martin, was allowed to enter the country and has been reporting from Beijing since she arrived.