Woeser participating in a video conference with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Chinese human rights lawyers Jiang Tianyong and Teng Biao on January 4, 2011.
DHARAMSHALA, March 1: Tsering Woeser, the award-winning Tibetan writer and blogger has been barred from collecting an award from the Netherlands Embassy in Beijing and issued a month-long house arrest order.
Writing on her social networking page, Woeser said she was invited to receive her 2011 Prince Claus Award at a dinner reception at the Netherlands Embassy but on the eve of the private felicitation ceremony, officials from the Beijing Public Security Bureau arrived at her doorstep and issued orders barring her from visiting the Embassy.
“They (State Security police) said I could not go to the Netherlands Embassy tomorrow. They also said: for the month of March I would not be able to go out. If I wanted to go out it would have to be with them following along,” Woeser wrote.
Woeser was a recipient of the 2011 Prince Claus Award, presented annually by the Netherlands-based Prince Claus Fund to individuals, groups and organisations for their outstanding achievements in the field of culture and development.
Calling the 44-year old, a “courageous Tibetan writer
,” the Prince Claus Fund while announcing the award last September had noted the “unique perspectives” that Woeser offers “on the complexities of Tibet today.”
According to Woeser, the Chairman of the Fund was scheduled to personally present the award but he was refused a visa to visit China. Moreover, the Netherlands Embassy was also warned by officials in Beijing against honouring Woeser.
“But the Netherlands Embassy stated that it was still going to award me the prize, but at a fairly private ceremony in the embassy residence,” Woeser wrote.
The Tibetan writer believes that her house arrest orders for the month of March could also be linked with the upcoming sessions of the rubber-stamp Chinese parliament and the Tibetan National Uprising anniversary on March 10 and the March 16 anniversary of monk Phuntsok’s self-immolation that triggered the ongoing wave of self-immolations in Tibet.
“Actually, two weeks earlier they had already set up a post and were sitting downstairs in a dispatch room,” Woeser noted. “But now they had a car parked downstairs (and there were people in the car).”
Offering her consolation, Woeser recounted her husband Wang Lixiong as saying that missing a felicitation dinner and a month of house arrest “didn’t count as much” at a time when Tibetans have committed self-immolation, arrested, and disappeared.
“Your people are suffering; you shouldn’t attend a dinner party,” Woeser quoted Wang as saying.
Earlier recipients of the Prince Claus Award from China have not been barred from receiving the prize.
“Why have I been “made the exception”? Could it be because I’m Tibetan? A dissident writer?” Woeser questions.
Presently living in Beijing, Woeser has undergone harassment and house arrest on multiple occasions. Her popular blog has been regularly attacked and her movements have been restricted and constantly watched.
Woeser was barred on earlier occasions from leaving China to accept the Norwegian Author’s Union’s 2007 Freedom of Expression Prize in Oslo and the International Women's Media foundation’s 2010 ‘Courage in Journalism award' in New York.