Most Wanted In Tibet
The following series of screen captures appears at the major Chinese portals. The title was "Photographs of suspects wanted by the Lhasa public security bureau for assaulting, smashing, lotting and arson." The accompanying text reads: "Welcome the broad masses to actively make reports to the public security apparaturs. Confidentiality and rewards are offered to tipsters. Hotline: 0891-6324422 or just call 110."
[note: Suspect #3 has been arrested, and suspect #4 surrendered to the police]
Suspects # 7 and 8
Suspects #11 and 12
Suspects #14, 15, 16 and 17
The French TV station France24 has a report on their citizen media "Observers" website showing a screenshot of Yahoo! China's front page which at some point today displayed the "most wanted" ad, linking to the full photo gallery and list. The report says:
Yahoo China pasted a "most wanted" poster across its homepage today in aid of the police's witch-hunt for 24 Tibetans accused of taking part in the recent riots. MSN China made the same move, although it didn't go as far as publishing the list on its homepage.
Here is their report and Yahoo! China screenshot:
The report does not say what time the screenshots were taken. As of this writing, neither Yahoo! China nor MSN China are running the "most wanted" information anywhere that I have been able to find ... I wouldn't be surprised if the local editors just automatically ran it because everybody else in China was running it, then got over-ridden by management in the U.S. who realized how badly this would play outside of China... Such is the disconnect between China and the West on the Tibet issue.
Well, who is Yahoo! China going to please here? On one hand, there are their corporate masters located in the United States who evaluate the public relations implications of their actions and this may have been the decision here to avoid yet another Congressional hearing. On the other hand, it will be hell to pay in China if word gets out that Yahoo! China will not assist in chasing down the criminals who perpetrate the criminal acts that have been broadly publicized around the world because of the fear of bad publicity in America.
Additional Link: Caught in a culture war: Yahoo!'s sticky China situation RConversation
The photos published by the Lhasa public security bureau were screen captures taken from video tapes, which means that the documentary evidence is probably quite extensive on these suspects. At what point does one concede that there is a legitimate criminal case (e.g. ripping the gate off a Bank of China office; randomly attacking a bicyclist with a rock or stick; setting the first that caused the deaths of the five shop attendants, four Chinese and one Tibetan; etc)? Or does one always hold the line that these people are freedom fighters? I think that most people will ask to see the evidence first. What do you think after watching this 2-minute video from Euronews? Would you publish the screen captures (such as the one for the person wielding the big knife)?
And then there is this series of Reuters photographs:
There are other photographs taken by individuals (such as tourists) and then published famously in mainstream media. Those photos may also be used to track down the persons present. An example might be the person on the top right corner of this photo:
The blogger Kadfly took some of the photographs that were published in newspapers. Here are his thoughts on this issue (March 19, 2008)
... a lot of the photos from the 'Lhasa Burning' post show people's faces and may lead to their arrest. As such, I will be taking these particular photos down - if you think other photos should be taken down for similar reasons please make a comment so that I know about it.
I will admit that I struggled with this decision for a little while: many of those shown in the photos were acting little better than violent thugs when the pictures were taken (e.g. in the flag burning photo, one of those shown began throwing rocks at others in the hotel moments after I took the picture) so I'm unsure if they actually deserve any protection from the authorities. That said, I will keep those particular photos off my blog for now.
Of course, such decisions are not taken in a vacuum because the Chinese people (many of whom can read English just fine) are watching how westerners handle this.