Tibetan Author’s Blog Closed
RFA[Tuesday, August 01, 2006 10:25]
Woeser. Photo provided by Woeser.
Woeser. Photo provided by Woeser.
WASHINGTON - Chinese authorities have closed a popular blog by a banned Tibetan author in Beijing, Woeser, who said in an interview she was unsurprised by the move but had received no explanation.

“I checked my Woeser Blog and realized it had been shut down,” she told RFA’s Tibetan service. “So I sent an e-mail to Tibetcul.net hoping for some answers.”

“They responded around midday letting me know that Central United Front officials instructed the Gansu Web monitoring station to close my Weblog sites. My blog was registered in Gansu province.”

“I was not given any kind of explanation for the closure. Since the Chinese authorities have closed other Web sites and blogs, I was not surprised by what they did to my blog,” Woeser, whose Chinese name is Wei Se, said.

“I have no plans to launch again at this point in time. Since I am basically a writer, they cannot block my speech and writing. There is no freedom in expression. I have no plan to open other Web sites. So it is o.k.,” Woeser said.

Sacked after book

Woeser, 40, is a well-known writer of Tibetan origin. She is married to the Chinese writer Wang Lixiong and lives in Beijing.

She is the author of 10 volumes, including one book of collected poems, Tibet Journal, and two books on the Cultural revolution. Most of her work is banned inside China.

“My two blogs are called Woeser Blog and Maroon Map. I published some of my poems, articles on de-robed monks, writings on the Amdo-Lhasa railways, and a discussion forum there,” she said. Both blogs were closed down on July 28, she said.

“My first site, Maroon Map, has received about 300,000 visitors. Most of them are Tibetans. In the case of the Woeser Blog, most visitors are Chinese.”

Woeser graduated from the Southwest Institute for National Minorities in Chengdu.

Blogs addressed sensitive issues

She was sacked in 2004 from the Tibetan Cultural Association in Lhasa, the Tibetan regional capital, after publishing Tibet Journal.

The book, banned in China, reported on Tibetans’ continuing reverence for the Dalai Lama, whom Chinese authorities regard as a “splittist” committed to Tibetan independence. She subsequently lived for a time under official surveillance.

Her blogs have addresses a number of highly sensitive issues, such as HIV/AIDS in Tibet, the recently completed Tibet railway, and the 40th anniversary of the Cultural Revolution.

These issues are all considered sensitive by the Chinese communist government, which has ruled Tibet since 1950.

Agence France-Presse quoted a manager of one of two Web sites that carried Woeser’s blogs as saying, “I believe the order [to close] came from the central government.”

Wangxiu Caidan, a Tibetan who gave the Chinese transliteration of her name and manages tibetcul.net, said Woeser’s blog was one of the most popular on the site.

In a commentary on the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, broadcast by Radio Free Asia, Woeser took vehement issue with Communist revision of Tibet’s history and culture.

“Tibetans living in this transformative period are also divided into old and new. The old is unwanted; the new is required. How much effort is required to transform, repackage, and even change the ethics of an old people into a new people? Does it also imply how to grieve and fall to pieces?” she wrote.

“For many years, the Party’s literary and art workers have, in this dramatized way, revised Tibet, re-painted Tibet, re-sung Tibet, re-danced Tibet, re-filmed Tibet, re-sculpted Tibet,” Woeser wrote. “Actual history was changed in this image colored by red ideology. The memories of generations of Tibetans were changed by this image colored by red ideology.”

Press freedom group 'appalled'

In a statement, the press freedom group Reporters Without Borders said it was “appalled by the closure of Woeser’s blogs, and we call for them to be reopened.”

“As her poetry is banned in China, these blogs were the only way she had left to express herself. Their disappearance shows how the Chinese authorities go out of their way to limit Tibetan culture to folklore for tourists.”

“Political control of the Chinese Internet is becoming more and more strict. The Chinese search engines recently updated their word filters while chat forums have been closed on government orders,” the group said in a statement. “We again appeal to the Chinese authorities to respect freedom of expression, a right guaranteed under their constitution.”

Original reporting by RFA's Tibetan service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Tibetan service director: Jigme Ngapo. Produced for the Web in English by Sarah Jackson-Han.