Thursday, 14 March 2013

Tibetan Blogger and Poet Denied Passport

I decided against doing a piece for International Women's Day on the 8th now that the Buddhist connection re the Bhikkhuni controversy has "died down". However now the story that Tsering Woeser has been denied a passport to collect her “Women of Courage” award has emerged.

Tsering Woeser, the Tibetan blogger and poet being honoured by the US State Department as a “Woman of Courage,” is unable to attend the award ceremony because the Chinese government has repeatedly refused to issue her a passport.

Tsering Woeser was one of 10 women named for the International Women’s Day honour in Washington, in part for her efforts in documenting a wave of Tibetans who have doused themselves with petrol and then set themselves on fire in protest against Beijing’s rule. Woeser said she started to track the self-immolations, posting photos and information on each one, on her blog so that she had clear sense of the scale of the protests.

She said in an interview from her home in Beijing: “When there were only a dozen of cases, many were omitted or forgotten. Self-immolating is such a tragic act and there is a reason if a group of people make that sort of decision. They should not be forgotten.”

The US State Department said Woeser’s website, poetry and non-fiction “have given voice to millions of ethnic Tibetans who are prevented from expressing themselves to the outside world due to government efforts to curtail the flow of information”.

The award drew criticism from China’s foreign ministry, which said today that Woeser “twists facts” about Tibet, attacks Beijing’s ethnic policies and “sabotages China’s national solidarity”. “For America to award a prize to such a person is no different from publicly supporting her words intended to separate China,” said spokeswoman Hua Chunying.

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