Jezza Neumann on undercover reporting: ‘It’s hard to explain that fear in your gut’
Evading spies in Tibet was harrowing for the journalist Jezza Neumann, but just a fraction of what locals suffer
by Jezza Neumann
Monday, 31 March 2008
It’s illegal to work as a journalist in Tibet, so we knew that it was going to be a struggle even to get there, let alone to survive and report.
If you want to film in Tibet then you have to apply for permission, and if you’re given permission then you’ll be allocated a state-appointed minder – so the only way to make a film of the truth successfully is to go undercover.
As China shows its friendly face to the rest of the world in the year of the Olympics, our mission was to show people what was really happening. Were the Chinese authorities being honest about the way they govern Tibet? Or should we believe the reports from the human rights activists, campaigning to free Tibet from Chinese rule and oppression?
My Tibet: Secret report from the roof of the world
Eleven years ago, Tash, above, risked his life to flee Tibet. Now he has risked it again, by returning with a hidden camera to film the stories of torture, murder and forced sterilisation that China does not want the world to hear.
By Clare Dwyer Hogg
Sunday, 30 March 2008
Tash does not look like a man who has just put his life in danger. But as he sits in a cosy editing suite in London, the images on the screens around him – a Tibetan political prisoner showing his scars, a still of Tash interviewing a Buddhist monk – prove the contrary. He has risked his life at least twice: the first time, 11 years ago, to escape his native Tibet; and then, as the screens document, when he went back with a hidden camera to expose what he felt were injustices perpetrated by the Chinese government. “I can now never go back to Tibet,” he says. “But it is worth it.”
What makes his actions particularly dangerous is the Chinese government’s blanket ban on journalists entering Tibet. His report for Channel 4’s Dispatches reveals detail not seen before: reports last month of the recent uprisings could only be given by major news sources from vantage points outside the country – usually Nepal – conveying what snatches of second-hand experiences they could garner from the other side of the Himalayas. Tibet has an estimated one Chinese soldier for every 20 Tibetans – as opposed to one soldier per 1,400 Chinese citizens. This country, about the size of western Europe, has been firmly in the grip of the Chinese government since the Dalai Lama fled in 1959.