Jun 21, 2013

Tibet: Tsering Woeser Placed Under House Arrest

Tsering Woeser, who has written extensively about the social conditions of Tibetans, has been placed under house arrest in what she describes as Chinese attempts to silence her voice.

Below is an article published by Radio Free Asia:

Tibetan poet and writer Tsering Woeser said on Thursday [20 June 2013] that she has been placed under house arrest by authorities who she felt want to prevent her from speaking up on conditions in Tibet ahead of a state-sponsored trip by foreign journalists to the troubled region.

“We have been placed under house arrest again,” Woeser wrote on her blog on Thursday [20 June 2013], saying that she and her husband Wang Lixiong were taken into custody by police and state security agents in a suburban district of Beijing municipality on Wednesday afternoon [19 June 2013] before being taken home.

The couple were picked up on Cuiwei Road in Beijing’s Haidian district and driven in their own car back to their residence in the eastern part of the city, said the award-winning writer who has written critically of the Chinese government’s policies in Tibet.

Plainclothes police were placed outside her residence building and two were put on permanent watch by the elevator, Woeser wrote, adding that their confinement at home will likely last until June 25 [2013], and possibly longer.

“This time it’s in order to skew the reports that will emerge from a trip to [Tibet’s regional capital] Lhasa that has been organized for foreign journalists in China,” she said.

Meeting with reporters

Earlier this week, Woeser had met with two reporters and a foreign diplomat who plan to visit the Tibet Autonomous Region, the DPA news agency said.

“[Chinese] authorities seem concerned that my views will contradict the rosy picture that they want to present via an approved itinerary and scripted encounters meant to project an image of happy Tibetans living happy lives,” Woeser wrote in her blog.

Chinese authorities have stepped up security and imposed a communication blockade in the Tibet Autonomous Region and Tibetan-populated areas in Chinese provinces after Tibetans began self-immolating to protest against Chinese rule since February 2009.

A total of 120 Tibetans to date have set themselves ablaze to challenge Chinese rule and call for the return of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

In March [2013], Beijing blocked Woeser from traveling to Washington to receive an award honoring her for her courage in upholding Tibetan rights. She was also put under house arrest then.

Woeser “has emerged as the most prominent mainland activist speaking out publicly about human rights conditions” for Tibetans, the U.S. State Department said in a statement in conjunction with the award presentation.

Her website Invisible Tibet, together with her poetry and nonfiction and writings on social media have given voice to millions of Tibetans “who are prevented from expressing themselves to the outside world due to government efforts to curtail the flow of information,” the State Department said.