May 6, 2008 1:05 PM   Subscribe

A Lone Tibetan Voice, Intent on Speaking Out. Woeser (previously mentioned here) is a Tibetan writer and poet living under house arrest in Beijing, from where she blogs about the recent unrest in Tibet (there are English translations of her posts at China Digital Times). Last year she was awarded the Norwegian Authors Union Freedom of Expression Prize, but she was not allowed to travel to Oslo to collect the prize.
posted by homunculus (15 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Correction: she's no longer under house arrest, but she is still kept under surveillance.
posted by homunculus at 1:11 PM on May 6, 2008

Yesterday, I went to the cafeteria for lunch. I was talking to my colleague about our weekends, and mentioned going to Chinatown for lunch on Sunday. This piqued the interested of another coworker who had seated herself at our lunch table. My first colleague quietly slipped away while this other coworker talked to me for 15 or 20 minutes. She started with a pro-China-olympics rally that had been held in town over the weekend - I saw it, she did not, although she had also been in Chinatown that day. She went on to tell me how the folks from Tibet had it 'much easier' in China, due to lowered college admission standards, and how they had been enslaved until China had taken over Tibet. She got very frustrated about the 'few rich people' who control the western media (the NYT and CNN, to her) and report only from one perspective. She explained how, since she could read the news not only from the US but also from PRC and Taiwan, she had a more balanced perspective. She also mentioned her neighbor of 50 years from Shanghai who had moved to and lived in Tibet.

It got to be a painful conversation for me - mostly because the lack of shared social queues made it difficult for me to extract myself well after I was done with my rice and diet Coke. My point is, ex-pat or no, I think she was expressing a very mainstream Chinese point of view.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 7:39 PM on May 6, 2008

Thanks for this post- in all that's been going on, the voices and experiences of the Tibetans themselves don't get enough exposure, and I'm glad to see them getting some. For all the focus that there's been on Chinese opinion in the present controversy, it seems to me that the most important thing by far (from a moral standpoint, at any rate) is what the Tibetans themselves feel about their situation, and I've seen nothing to give me the impression that they're happy about it.

I've been rather dismayed at how many American liberals, at least online, seem to be taking an essentially pro-China view of the current situation. Whether it's from believing the old canard that the present Dalai Lama is secretly a theocrat, fear of creating anti-China sentiment that might be used by right-wing politicians in America to gin up a conflict (something I don't think would actually happen, due to the degree of economic connection between the US and China), or fear of looking like stereotypical hippies, a surprising amount of the American liberal/left opinion I've seen on the matter seems to range from actively pro-China to just seeing the issue as unimportant, and in general Chinese opinion seems to be treated as more important than Tibetan opinion.

This is something I very strongly disagree with. It is true that Chinese opinion is indeed more important than Tibetan in the same sense that American opinion is more important than Iraqi- in that the general opinion of those with power will prevail over those without it- but that does not make it right, in either case.
posted by a louis wain cat at 10:12 PM on May 6, 2008

Thanks for the post.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:54 AM on May 7, 2008

Davesgonechina points out in Engaging Chinese Netizens that if you
1) Believe in democratic principles and free speech
2) You believe the Internet is a tool for unfettered global communication
3) There’s something in China (or any other country) that bothers you
Then you ought to put some energy into communicating directly with Chinese netizens about the problem.
He also explains how to do so.
posted by adamvasco at 1:47 AM on May 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

More by Woeser here.
posted by homunculus at 9:59 AM on May 7, 2008

A Letter from Lhasa
posted by homunculus at 5:25 PM on May 10, 2008

posted by homunculus at 9:20 PM on May 29, 2008

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