Denied passport, Tibet poet unable to receive US award
By Gillian Wong ,APBEIJING -- The United States would like to present an outspoken Tibetan author with an award for courage but the activist will be unable to travel to receive the honor because Chinese authorities have routinely denied her a passport.
March 9, 2013, 12:09 am TWN
Poet and activist Tsering Woeser was one of 10 women named for the International Women's Day honor in Washington, in part for her efforts in documenting a wave of Tibetans who have doused themselves with kerosene and then set themselves on fire in protest against Beijing's rule. Woeser said she started to track the self-immolations, posting photos and information of each one, on her blog so that she had clear sense of the scale of the protests.
“When there were only a dozen of cases, many were omitted or forgotten. Self-immolating is such a tragic act and there is a reason if a group of people make that sort of decision. They should not be forgotten,” Woeser said in an interview at her home in Beijing.
The U.S. State Department said Woeser's website, poetry and non-fiction “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.”
The award drew criticism from China's Foreign Ministry, which said Friday that Woeser “twists facts” about Tibet, attacks Beijing's ethnic policies and “sabotages China's national solidarity.”
“For America to award a prize to such a person is no different from publicly supporting her words intended to separate China,” said spokeswoman Hua Chunying. She said Beijing has expressed its displeasure over the award to the United States and urged it to refrain from “interfering” in China's internal affairs.
Woeser was to be one of 10 women honored at a ceremony Friday attended by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and first lady Michelle Obama.
But Woeser said she would be unable to attend because her application last year for a passport was denied by police — as it has been for many years — and that she was told the reason was that she's deemed a threat to state security, presumably because of her activism.