Happy birthday, Dalai Lama: China celebrates by cutting comms in Tibetan region

It was the Dalai Lama’s birthday last week; he turned 77. China celebrated in its own unique way by severing public communication services, with both text messaging and internet access disabled for two days in Ganzi prefecture, a Tibetan autonomous region in western Sichuan province. Phone calls, however, could still be made.

There was no announcement, no explanation. One minute you could surf the internet, text your friend; the next, messages were blocked and the web was down. (more…)

Tibetan writer prevented from receiving culture prize

Woeser, a Tibetan writer who has authored online articles and non-fiction books about her birthplace, has been prevented from attending a ceremony in which the Dutch Ambassador in China was to present her with an award from the Prince Claus Fund.

The writer was prevented by police from leaving her house in Beijing to accept the award at the Dutch Embassy last Thursday.

Woeser wrote Notes on Tibet in 2003 and has been widely published in Taiwan. It is rare for Tibetan writers (she is three-quarters Tibetan) to write in Mandarin Chinese, Woeser maintained two blogs within China before they were shut down in 2007. Woeser now maintains a blog outside of China, which is also sometimes hacked.

She blogged about the prize, reposting a statement released by the Dutch embassy:

Woeser is honoured for her courage in speaking for those who are silenced and oppressed, for her compelling combination of literary quality and political reportage, for recording, articulating and supporting Tibetan culture, and for her active commitment to self-determination, freedom and development in Tibet.

It is a politically sensitive time for the Tibetan writer — who cannot travel abroad without permission. The Chinese capital is in the midst of its annual National Legislative Sessions and March also marks the fourth anniversary of the Tibet uprisings.

Immolations in Tibet have escalated recently, the Western media have reported around 25 Tibetans self-immolating since last March, 18 of whom are believed to have died.

Tradition of protest

Woeser, author of “Notes on Tibet”, was one of many signatories of a letter to the Chinese government calling for the release of Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo. Writing for Index on Censorship magazine, she celebrates Tibetan singer Tashi Dhondup