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A Tibetan Detained and Tortured for Singing National Anthem in China

Pema Wangchen was recorded singing the anthem Feb. 13, the fifth day of the Tibetan New Year, in Ogzang Township, Ganze County, Sichuan.

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The Kumbum of the Palcho Monastery, Gyantse, Tibet. Luca Galuzzi - www.galuzzi.it. Wikimedia Commons
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A father of three of was reportedly detained and tortured by security officials for singing the Tibetan national anthem at a public gathering in China’s western Sichuan province.

Video of the Tibetan man singing the banned anthem at a public gathering in what appeared to be a village in the Tibet Autonomous Region went viral on Wechat in April.

Watch 1- hour video Why Tibet is burning? Here is the video 

A Tibetan monk in India who knows the man told VOA’s Tibetan Service that Pema Wangchen, a single parent, was recorded singing the anthem Feb. 13, the fifth day of the Tibetan New Year, in Ogzang Township, Ganze County, Sichuan.

Tibet. Wikimedia Commons
Tibet. Wikimedia Commons

After the video surfaced, the man was detained for 15 days before being released in early May.

Related story: Lobsang Sangay re-elected as Prime Minister by Tibetans-in-exile

Choe Gyaltsen, an exiled Tibetan who is also from Ganze County, says Wangchen, whose pinky finger is now paralyzed, was possibly suspended by his smallest finger during interrogation, during which he was repeatedly told that his “family members are all criminal.”

Buddha painted over a rock wall in Tibet. Wikimedia Commons
Buddha painted over a rock wall in Tibet. Wikimedia Commons

Wangchen’s brother, Palden Trelan, a monk from Ganze Monastery, was arrested in 2008 after he and two other monks marched through Ganze shouting “Long live the Dalai Lama,” according to a Radio Free Asia report in 2015.

Trelan had served seven years in prison by the time he was released May 18, 2015.

This report was produced in collaboration with VOA’s Tibetan Service.

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Shanghai Airport Gets Check-In With Facial Recognition Machines

Increased convenience may come at a cost in a country with few rules on how the government can use biometric data.

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Shanghai,
A U.S. Customs and Border Protection facial recognition device is ready to scan another passenger at a United Airlines gate. VOA

It’s now possible to check in automatically at Shanghai Hongqiao airport using facial recognition technology, part of an ambitious rollout of facial recognition systems in China that has raised privacy concerns as Beijing pushes to become a global leader in the field.

Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport unveiled self-service kiosks for flight and baggage check-in, security clearance and boarding powered by facial recognition technology, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

Similar efforts are under way at airports in Beijing and Nanyang city, in central China’s Henan province.

Shanghai,
Face recognition tool was first launched in 2012

Many airports in China already use facial recognition to help speed security checks, but Shanghai’s system, which debuted Monday, is being billed as the first to be fully automated.

“It is the first time in China to achieve self-service for the whole check-in process,” said Zhang Zheng, general manager of the ground services department for Spring Airlines, the first airline to adopt the system at Hongqiao airport. Currently, only Chinese identity card holders can use the technology.

Spring Airlines, Shanghai said Tuesday that passengers had embraced automated check-in, with 87 percent of 5,017 people who took Spring flights on Monday using the self-service kiosks, which can cut down check-in times to less than a minute and a half.

Shanghai,
Rana el Kaliouby, CEO of the Boston-based artificial intelligence firm Affectiva, demonstrates the company’s facial recognition technology, in Boston, April 23, 2018. VOA

Across greater China, facial recognition is finding its way into daily life. Mainland police have used facial recognition systems to identify people of interest in crowds and nab jaywalkers, and are working to develop an integrated national system of surveillance camera data.

Chinese media are filled with reports of ever-expanding applications: A KFC outlet in Hangzhou, near Shanghai, where it’s possible to pay using facial recognition technology; a school that uses facial recognition cameras to monitor students’ reactions in class; and hundreds of ATMs in Macau equipped with facial recognition devices to curb money laundering.

Also Read: Facial Recognition Technology Catches A Person With Fake Passpost At The US Airport 

But increased convenience may come at a cost in a country with few rules on how the government can use biometric data.

“Authorities are using biometric and artificial intelligence to record and track people for social control purposes,” said Maya Wang, senior China researcher for Human Rights Watch. “We are concerned about the increasing integration and use of facial recognition technologies throughout the country because it provides more and more data points for the authorities to track people.” (VOA)