Woeser: Fire on the Mountain

Tsering Woeser, a prominent Tibetan blogger who usually goes by her second name alone, has an essay in Foreign Policy calling on Han Chinese to speak up against the ongoing crackdown in Tibet in which several writers, journalists and other prominent cultural figures have been detained or disappeared (a practice that will become legal under a revised Criminal Procedure Law on January 1, 2013). Twenty-seven Tibetans have set themselves on fire in protest against Beijing’s policies in Tibet, at least twenty of whom have died. Woeser herself has been detained and held under house arrest at various times in recent years. In her piece, Woeser, who is married to prominent Han Chinese dissident writer Wang Lixiong and is a quarter Han herself, calls out Han activists for not speaking up on behalf of Tibetans:

Tibetans have no voice in China. The Dalai Lama, who has been in exile for 53 years; the Panchen Lama, who has been missing for 17 years; the 27 people who have set fire to themselves over the past three years, a group of people between the ages of 17 to 41, monks and nuns, farmers, herders, students, and the parents of children — the only existence they have in Chinese society is one in which their reputations have been sullied and the truth has been distorted.

How many members of Tibet’s elite have been disappeared by the party apparatus and now sit in some black jail somewhere?

And still the Han Chinese say nothing. Many keep silent because they accept the concept of grand unity, where all minorities need to be shoehorned into fitting under Chinese rule. Some keep silent because they mind their own business, a traditional principle of Confucianism that has devolved into selfishness. And some are silent because they are afraid. In Beijing recently, someone transmitted news of a Tibetan committing self-immolation on Sina’s microblog (China’s Twitter). The police took him to a police station in the middle of the night and warned him not to mention Tibet again.

Read more by and about Woeser, via CDT. Also see her blog, Invisible Tibet, and follow her on Twitter, @degewa.


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