Tibetan Writer Says China Blocks Her From Award

Published March 1, 2012 9:09AM (EST)

BEIJING (AP) — An outspoken Tibetan writer said Chinese authorities prevented her from receiving a cultural award Thursday at the Dutch ambassador's residence in Beijing.

Poet Tsering Woeser said that state security agents told her Wednesday they would not let her attend the low-key, private event to receive the Prince Claus Fund of the Netherlands award for courage in speaking on behalf of the rights of Tibetans.

In an online video chat with The Associated Press, she also said that four or five security agents were stationed at her apartment building this week, keeping her under virtual house arrest. She said she has to ask permission to go anywhere.

Woeser said the officials did not say why she could not attend the event or why agents were posted at her home, but that the reasons could include the coming week's start of China's annual legislative session in Beijing, when security in the city tightens. It could also be that this month is a sensitive time for Tibet, she said. This month marks several anniversaries, including that of the unsuccessful revolt against China that caused the Dalai Lama to flee in 1959.

"Whatever the reason is, the reality is that I do not have freedom anymore," she said.

Beijing police had no immediate comment.

The Dutch Embassy referred questions to the government in the Hague, which did not immediately respond to an emailed list of questions.

The Dutch fund says on its website that Woeser was named one of the winners of its award because of "her courage in speaking for those who are silenced and oppressed" as well as her political reporting and support of Tibetan culture.

Woeser's willingness to openly confront authorities makes her stand out among Tibetans, most of whom are reluctant to do so because of the harshness of China's repression of the Tibetan region.

In recent weeks, Woeser has posted on her blog photos and information about Tibetans self-immolating to protest Chinese rule as well as the tightening of security in Tibetan areas.

By Salon Staff

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