London Book Fair complying with Chinese oppression

Various human rights and Tibet groups respond to the London Book Fair’s decision  on the gaurdian:

It is extremely disappointing to learn that the organisers of the London Book Fair and the British Council have apparently acquiesced to pressure from the Chinese authorities and failed to invite dissident authors and poets to the event at Earls Court next week (Report, 21 March). The London Book Fair should be using this opportunity to showcase voices from all perspectives in the Peoples’ Republic of China, including the dissenting voices that might be critical of the state, such as jailed poet and Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, and Tibetan writer Tsering Woeser. It is bad enough that writers, journalists, bloggers and academics are subject to heavy censorship in China, but we should not be allowing the authorities to replicate their restrictions on freedom of expression further afield.
Kate Allen Director, Amnesty International UK
Hori Takeaki Secretary, Pen International
Dr Kirsty Hughes Chief executive, Index on Censorship
Philippa Carrick Chief executive, Tibet Society
Kate Saunders International Campaign for Tibet
Pempa Lobsang Chairperson, Tibetan Community in Britain
Pema Yoko National director, Students for a Free Tibet
Andrew Johnston Advocacy director, Christian Solidarity Worldwide
Shao Jiang Chinese Unofficial Publication Network
Nicola Macbean Executive director, The Rights Practice
Tienchi Liao Independent Chinese Pen Centre

Comedian Detained

Who said the Chinese have got no sense of humour? They were obviously right.


Another Tibetan cultural figure was arrested last month. Authorities in Lithang county, Kardze TAP have detained 33 year-old comedian and satirist Athar. He reportedly planned to release a video criticising Chinese rule, according to exile sources.  Read the story in full here.  

Tibetan poet Tsering Woeser is another artist who has suffered recently from the Chinese government’s media restrictions. 

On Thursday Chinese authorities prevented her from receiving a cultural award at the Dutch ambassador’s residence because she is under surveillance and cannot travel abroad. She has been in exile in Beijing since 2003 when her collection of essays, Notes on Tibet wasofficially banned on account of “political errors.”  

Woeser says: 

‘when Notes on Tibet was banned, I was a little shocked. I’m actually very slow in certain aspects, thinking that others would understand the stories I wrote, and in other words, they would not be banned since they are true stories. This shows that I’m really rather foolish.’ 

The complete interview with Woser plus examples of her poetry can be read at Cerise Press literature and arts journal here.

Meanwhile Reporters Without Borders have claimed that restrictions on the media in Tibet are even worse than North Korea.

The organisation said:

Out of sight of the world, a major crisis is unfolding. Even Pyongyang has an international media presence, which is not the case in Lhasa.

“Chinese authorities aim to control the Tibetan people behind closed doors, excluding journalists, foreign ones in particular, who might be troublesome witnesses of what is happening.”

Tibetan writer says China blocks her from award

BEIJING (AP) — An outspoken Tibetan writer said Chinese authorities prevented her from receiving a cultural award Thursday at the Dutch ambassador’s residence and are keeping her under virtual house arrest.

Poet Tsering Woeser said state security agents told her Wednesday they would not let her attend the low-key, private event to receive the Prince Claus Fund of the Netherlands award for courage in speaking on behalf of the rights of Tibetans.

In an online video chat with The Associated Press, she also said four or five security agents were stationed at her apartment building this week and she had to ask permission to go anywhere. She said officials have not explained their actions.

China’s annual legislative session starts in the coming week, and security in the city tightens. This month is also a sensitive time for Tibet, marking several anniversaries, including that of the unsuccessful revolt against China that caused the Dalai Lama to flee in 1959.

Separately, the head of China’s top government advisory group launched a new broadside against supporters of the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader.

"The Communist Party committees and governments at all levels must closely rely on the people and resolutely crush the Dalai clique’s conspiracy to foment chaos in the Tibetan areas and uphold the harmony and the social stability of the Tibet and the Tibetan areas," Jia Qinglin told participants at a meeting on Tibetan social and economic development.

Beijing police had no immediate comment on Woeser’s status.

"Whatever the reason is, the reality is that I do not have freedom anymore," she said.

The Dutch Embassy referred questions to the government in the Hague, which did not immediately respond to emailed questions.

The Dutch fund says on its website that Woeser was named one of the winners of its award because of “her courage in speaking for those who are silenced and oppressed” as well as her political reporting and support of Tibetan culture.

Woeser’s willingness to openly confront authorities makes her stand out among Tibetans, most of whom are reluctant to do so because of the harshness of China’s repression of the Tibetan region.

In recent weeks, Woeser has posted on her blog photos and information about Tibetans self-immolating to protest Chinese rule as well as the tightening of security in Tibetan areas.