Tsering Woeser is a Beijing-based Tibetan freelance writer and blogger for the site Invisible Tibet, where she posts reports of Chinese crackdowns in Tibet and Tibetan resistance to Chinese rule. She is also a contributor to Radio Free Asia.
Woeser, has been called “one of China’s best-known bloggers…” by The New York Times. Her actions are severely restricted by Chinese authorities. She works mostly from her apartment in Beijing; police monitor and follow her.
Woeser has been under constant scrutiny by Chinese authorities since the publication of her book, Notes on Tibet, in 2003. The book, which is about Tibetan history and religious and political traditions, was banned in China soon after it was published. As a result of government pressure about the book, Woeser was forced to move to Beijing and undergo “re-education,” including repeated detention, psychological abuse and interrogation.
Chinese officials demanded that Woeser rescind her statements about the Chinese occupation in Tibet. She was told that unless she apologized, she would lose her job at Tibetan Literature, a government-controlled journal. Woeser refused; she was fired in 2004 and forced to move to China.
In August 2008, the Chinese government raided Woeser’s home in Beijing because of her reporting on Chinese human rights abuses in Tibet. They interrogated Woeser for eight hours, confiscated many of her belongings, and stole computer and work notes. She was accused of taking pictures of police activity and forced to delete her photos. In the same year, Woeser and her husband were placed under house arrest by Chinese police, who kept watch on her apartment and followed her when she went outside.
The government constantly attempts to hack into Woeser’s blog and e-mail, which it has successfully done several times. Her account on Skype, an Internet phone service, has also been hacked multiple times, most recently in May. Chinese authorities have been suspected of launching hate campaigns against Woeser, which make her a target of threats by many nationalistic Chinese.
The government has also taken away Woeser’s passport, making it impossible for her to travel. Her work is published only by media outside of mainland China. Woeser has decided to sue the government for revoking her passport. She knows her case will be denied but hopes the act will draw attention to “China’s tight grip on Tibet and its people.”
Woeser’s family and friends have been threatened, detained and interrogated because of her work. Sources she has relied on in the past now refuse to speak to her for fear of retaliation. At least thirteen of Woeser’s friends have been held in prison by the Chinese government, in part for providing information about the human rights abuses in Tibet that inform Woeser’s reporting. Woeser’s mother asked that she leave the family home due to threats and police pressure.
Despite threats, detention, interrogation, loss of her job and loss of contact with her family and friends, Woeser is determined to continue reporting and writing to inform the world about the struggles of the Tibetan people.
She was born on July 21, 1966, in Lhasa, Tibet.