Update: Wangchuk Tseten will talk about the site and its closure at Columbia University on Thursday evening (March 24). Details here.
TibetCul.com, a news site and blog host with some 80,000 users, appears to have been taken offline for good. The closure threatens “an immeasurable loss to Tibetan netizens and [to] significantly decrease the size of the ever diminishing Tibetan cyberspace.” From the Sina Weibo accounts of, respectively, the site itself and its founder Wangchuk Tseten (translated by Global Voices Online):
On March 16 at 6pm, it was suddenly not possible to visit TibetCul’s page, the website staff and server operators just found out that higher authorities ordered to close the site down, when asking for the specific reason to the authorities, the staff on duty said he had no idea why!
After contacting the server operators, they gave me the following replies: 1. The specific reasons for the higher authorities ordering the closure are confidential 2. After pulling the plug, the server costs will still be incurred unless we withdraw from the server; 3. The same server is also hosting www.cometibet.com (Tibet Travel site) and Tibet Encyclopedia website, to reactivate these two sites it is necessary to re-apply. Please everyone tell us whether this is a reasonable legal request?!
Dechen Pemba of High Peaks Pure Earth provides background on the site and its earlier closures at Global Voices Online:
For all Tibet related news, blogs and cultural activities, TibetCul was an invaluable resource and source of information. Their database of profiles of prominent Tibetans were a thorough and well-organised “who’s who” of Tibet today and included useful information, for example when high profile Tibetan businessman Dorje Tashi was sentenced to life in prison and there was little biographical information online otherwise, the translations site High Peaks Pure Earth translated...
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