Tibetan denied passport to receive award

2013-03-08 13:00
Tibetan poet Tsering Woeser, one of 10 women named for the International Women's Day honor. (AP)

Tibetan poet Tsering Woeser, one of 10 women named for the International Women's Day honor. (AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Beijing - The United States would like to present an outspoken Tibetan author with an award for courage but the activist will be unable to travel to receive the honour because Chinese authorities have routinely denied her a passport.

Poet and activist 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 kerosene then set themselves on fire in protest against Beijing's rule.

Woeser said she started to track the self-immolations, posting photos and information of each one, on her blog so that she had clear sense of the scale of the protests.

"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," Woeser said in an interview at her home in Beijing.

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."

Passport denied

Woeser was to be one of 10 women honoured at a ceremony on Friday attended by US Secretary of State John Kerry and first lady Michelle Obama.

But Woeser said she would be unable to attend because her application last year for a passport was denied by police - as it has been for many years - and that she was told the reason was that she's deemed a threat to state security, presumably because of her activism.

Rights groups say China unfairly discriminates against Tibetans and the Turkic-speaking Uighurs of the far west in the issuing of passports.

The police in Beijing did not immediately respond to a faxed list of questions.

In a country where advocacy for Tibetan rights is often met with heavy reprisals, Woeser stands out because of her willingness to publicly criticise the Chinese government's repressive policies in her Himalayan homeland.

She started blogging in 2005 about problems rarely discussed in Tibet: environmental damage, prostitution, a new railroad that critics said was flooding the region with Chinese migrants.

‘Self immolation is inhumane’

In 2008, tensions boiled over in Tibet, and deadly rioting broke out in the capital, Lhasa, and sparked an uprising across large swaths of ethnically Tibetan areas.

Security has since been smothering, and Tibetans started setting themselves on fire in protest - totalling more than a hundred since 2009, with most of the self-immolations taking place last year.

The government has blamed the self-immolations on the Tibetans' beloved exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, saying he and other Tibetans based in Dharmsala, India, were instigating the protests.

In Beijing on Friday, officials from the Chinese-appointed Tibet autonomous region government repeated those accusations at a meeting on the sidelines of the annual legislative session.

Asked by reporters if Chinese authorities had evidence to back their claims, Padma Choling, chairperson of the regional congress, said the evidence was there but "it was not convenient to reveal it right now."

"Self-immolation is inhumane. Convincing others to commit such acts is even more inhumane," Padma Choling said.

The Dalai Lama and representatives of the self-declared Tibetan government-in-exile in India say they oppose all violence.

Read more on:    dalai lama  |  china  |  tibet  |  religion  |  self-immolations  |  human rights

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.