Tibetan Writer Honored by U.S. State Department

Tibetan writer Tsering Woeser is one of ten recipients of the U.S. Secretary of State’s 2013 International Women of Courage Award. The award “recognizes women around the globe who have shown exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for women’s rights and empowerment, often at great personal risk.” From the State Department’s biographies of the award winners:

In a period marked by increasing self-immolations and protests in Tibetan areas of China, Tsering Woeser has emerged as the most prominent Mainland activist speaking out publicly about human rights conditions for China’s Tibetan citizens. Born in Lhasa, Tsering Woeser’s website, Invisible Tibet, together with her poetry and non-fiction and her embrace of social media platforms like Twitter, 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. Despite the constant surveillance of security agents and routinely being placed under house arrest during periods deemed to be politically sensitive, Tsering Woeser bravely persists in documenting the situation for Tibetans, noting that “to bear witness is to give voice to,” and asserting that “the more than 100 Tibetans who have expressed their desire to resist the forces of oppression by bathing their bodies in fire are the reason why I will not give up, and why I will not compromise.”

Woeser has dedicated her award to the Tibetan self-immolators, and expressed disappointment that she will be unable to travel to the United States to accept it personally. From Dharamsala-based Phayul.com:

“I am grateful to the US State Department for granting me the International Women’s Courage Award,” Woeser told Phayul. “I would like to think this goes to show their concern over the self-immolations on the Tibetan plateau.”

“I want to dedicate this award to the more than one hundred people, who have bathed their bodies in fire and their families,” the Tibetan writer added.

[…] “Unfortunately, I can not accept the award in person. In fact, at the moment, I will not only fail to accept the award, but I have been put under house arrest,” the fearless writer said.

[…] This is not the first time that Woeser will be barred from receiving her award in person. Last year, she was barred from collecting the Prince Claus Award, presented annually by the Netherlands-based Prince Claus Fund for outstanding achievements in the field of culture and development. She also couldn’t receive 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.

Woeser tweets as @degewa, and her writing is regularly translated into English at High Peaks Pure Earth. See more about and by her via CDT.

March 5, 2013 1:34 PM
Posted By: