5-3-2013By Christopher Plummer
A. Whitney Ellsworth Fellow
The ongoing abuse in Tibet remains one of the most dire human rights crises in the world. In recent years, protesters have taken to self-immolating in the streets to show their despair over the Chinese government’s treatment of ethnic Tibetans. But there is one journalist who has tried to give voice to the many Tibetans who are otherwise forced to stay silent and endure abuse.
Tsering Woeser, an influential blogger living in Beijing, has spent years documenting the persecution of writers and cases of self-immolation in her blog, “Invisible Tibet.” Chinese officials claim that her work “sabotages China’s national solidarity.”
The Chinese government, in a not-uncommon display of persecution, has placed Woesner under long periods of house arrest, subjected her to constant surveillance, and has denied her permission to leave the country. She has endured these conditions despite never having been charged with a crime.
Originally born in Lhasa, Tibet, Woeser relocated with her family to China when she was a child. As an author, she is a rarity: a Tibetan writer who often publishes in Chinese. On Tibetans who use self-immolation as a form of protest, she has asserted that “there is a reason if a group of people make that sort of decision, but asks them to cease the practice and to “cherish life in times of repression.” On March 8, First Lady Michelle Obama joined with Secretary of State John Kerry to name Woeser as one of the recipients of the 2013 International Women of Courage Award.
In honor of World Press Freedom Day, the United States needs to show support and establish a consistent policy of support with journalists and human rights defenders in China. As Human Rights First has reported, U.S. support is crucial in bolstering their work and goes towards ensuring the protection of those at risk.