Security is tight in and around Tibetan capital Lhasa, a day before the Olympic torch relay. Even though the mass anti-China protests in Tibet appear to have calmed down, the discontent is still brewing under the surface. Many people are facing restrictions to go out or express themselves. But, one of the few Tibetan voices that have been reaching the outside world belongs to Tselong Woeser, a renowned blogger.
Tibetans are afraid of losing their culture and identity
Tselong Woeser knows what she wants. She wants to make an impact, make a difference. This is not such a simple task in China, certainly not as a Tibetan. The Chinese authorities have placed her under temporary house arrest since March this year. She has been threatened with dire consequences if she continues to write about Tibet.
But the well-known poet and writer is not deterred. She documents issues related to the current situation or history of Tibet. She has also reported about the Cultural Revolution. But this is not agreeable for the Chinese government. ‘’The Chinese government does not want these topics to be brought up. That is why they blocked my blog. I do not want to accuse the Chinese government at all, but I find that there are still many problems,’’ says Woeser.
Taking Tibet to the world
Woeser lives in Peking with her husband. But through frequent visits and contacts, she is always up to date on the latest happenings in Tibet. Her books and articles about Tibet have been banned by the government as ‘political errors’. Now, the 42-year-old publicised her work on the internet, so that she can continue to tell the world about the events in Tibet. But even here, she is stalked by the Communist party. Her blogs are censored, blocked or hacked. Woeser has to watch carefully every word that she writes. Being pro-Tibet is dangerous, because in China, separatism is punishable under law.
Woeser says that the reasons provoking the protests in Tibet have not happened overnight. The Tibetan people have been dissatisfied with the Chinese rule for a long time. The Olympic Games are only a platform to give vent to this resentment, to give a voice to the Tibetan folk.
Chinese propaganda creating rift
The Tibetan people are disillusioned with the Chinese government’s reactions to the protests. ‘’For me and the Tibetan people, the reaction of the Chinese government to the protests means great hopelessness. This reaction shows that the government has not at all given thought to the real cause for the violence, or where the faults in their own governance lie,’’ says Woeser.
The Chinese government’s strict propaganda as a response to the protests has led to a strong nationalistic feeling among the Chinese people. Woeser feels this has widened the rift between the Chinese and Tibetan people. Yet the international support provides a ray of hope.
Fears of losing roots
The Tibetans are in despair. They feel that their culture and Buddhist beliefs are under threat. Their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, even spoke of a ‘cultural genocide’. ‘’The Tibetans are a minority in their own land. Their language is on the decline, and they have poor job chances,’’ says Woeser.
Despite all odds, Tselong Woeser is determined to report about Tibet. A country, which she feels is treated by China like a domesticated animal. It is held firmly on a leash, and when it scratches or bites, it is locked away.