By Tenzin Tsering
Dharamsala, May 14 - International Women's Media foundation will confer upon Tibetan writer Woeser the 2010 ‘Courage in Journalism award’ which recognizes the bravery of women journalists around the world who risk political persecution, physical injury and death in their efforts to expose corruption and champion human rights.
Other recipients of this award are Claudia Duque, an investigative journalist of Colombia, and Vicky Ntetema, a freelance reporter from Tanzania. Founded in 1990, the International Women’s Media Foundation is a global network dedicated to strengthening the role of women in the news media worldwide as a means to further freedom of the press. The IWMF network includes women and men in the media in more than 130 countries worldwide.
“They risk everything, including their livelihoods, their safety and the safety of their families, to unearth the truth and enlighten us all,” Judy Woodruff of the PBS News Hour who chairs the ‘Courage in Journalism Awards’ said in a press statement by IWMF.
Woeser, 43; a Tibetan poet, writer and a blogger based in Beijing writes in Chinese language. She was born in 1966 in Lhasa, where her father was a soldier of the People’s Liberation army. She was raised in Kham-Derge as a child during the Cultural Revolution and never learned to read and write in her native language Tibetan in the highly sinicized education she received. Ironically this enabled her to become in her later ‘politically awakening years’ one of the few Tibetans who writes extensively in Chinese and is considered as an influential voice on the grim realities of Tibet to both her Tibetan and Chinese readers. Her writings are consistently being translated into English by Highpeakspureearth.com
She graduated from the Department of Chinese Language and Literature from the South West University for Nationalities in Chengdu, in 1988. She worked as a reporter for Ganze
(Kardze in Tibetan) Daily in Kham before joining as an editor of Lhasa-based Tibetan Literature (Xizang Wenxue
), an official Chinese language journal of the Literature Association of the Tibet Autonomous Region.
Her first book, a collection of poems called Tibet Above
(Xizang Supreme), established her as a celebrated Tibetan writer who writes in Chinese.
Her second book Notes on Tibet
(Xizang Biji), a compilation of 38 outspoken short stories began to acquaint her as a troublesome Tibetan writer. The book was critical of the Chinese government and was subsequently banned for its “political errors and threatening the unification and solidarity of our nation”. She was accused of writing sympathetic and favourable references to the Dalai Lama whom Beijing condemns as a “separatist”. Since then, Woeser has been removed from her position in the “TAR” Literature Association and restricted from applying for a passport to leave the country.
Woeser was effectively barred by Chinese authorities from leaving China for Oslo to accept the Norwegian Author’s Union’s 2007 Freedom of Expression Prize, given at their annual meeting on March 8, 2008.
She was also awarded an honorary ‘freedom of speech medal’ by the Association of Tibetan Journalists (ATJ) based in Dharamsala. In her acceptance speech written from Beijing, she expressed, “If everyone gives up their rights out of fear, then there will be more unrestricted oppression from leaders. So, the best way to enjoy freedom of speech and expression is to break out of the restricted rules and regulation curtailing freedom.”
Her earlier blogsites have been a victim of repeated hacking and attacks. She currently writes from Beijing at her Invisible Tibet