Protest Against Apple VPN Removal, calling on CEO Tim Cook to Reverse Action

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Manhattan, New York: At 2:00PM August 25 at the Apple Store at 1981 Broadway, Students for a Free Tibet activists enacted a photo visualization of Apple CEO Tim Cook promoting persecution of political activists and censorship by China. The graphic and powerful image depicted Apple’s impact on political freedom online in Tibet and China.

Apple’s recent decision to remove VPN from their App Stores in China has put activists and ordinary people at high risk of arrest and punishment by the Chinese government. Tibetan Activists in particular continue to be jailed and beaten for posting political and religious content online.

“Today, I hand-delivered a letter for Apple’s CEO Tim Cook at their corporate office in New York with an urgent appeal – Apple must re-allow VPNs in their app stores in China,” said Dorjee Tseten, Executive Director of Students for a Free Tibet. He added, “We are protesting Apple’s decision to removal of VPNs on their App Stores in China. This was an open betrayal of internet freedom and access to information. By removing VPN from its China App Store, Apple has made it easier for the CCP regime to jail people for seeking information.  Apple has turned its back on freedom to appease the dictatorship in China.”

In the letter, Dorjee Tseten stated that Students for a Free Tibet stands strongly against this censorship by Apple. He notes, “VPNs are critical tools that allow internet users to avert China’s oppressive information control and censorship.To a certain degree, they allow internet users to remain anonymous. Now, with Tim Cook’s new directive, Apple has lifted that thin veil of protection from the vulnerable groups evading Chinese censorship – especially Tibetans.”

According to the letter, just five months ago, Gedhun, a Tibetan youth who posted images of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan flag online, was beaten and left in critical condition by Chinese authorities. The letter ends with a demand that Apple CEO Tim Cook take responsibility because his actions would determine the fate of millions of internet users, and gave him until August 31st to respond on this matter.

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