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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

China’s New Rebels

June 4, 2009

New York Times

June 2, 2009, 8:48 pm


What Being a Dissident Means




Woeser is a Tibetan dissident, writer and poet. She blogs at Invisible Tibet. This essay was translated by The Times from the Chinese.


China is not as open politically today as in 1989. The atmosphere in the 1980s felt freer — it was suffused with an enthusiasm for culture and ideas, with people craving and absorbing new thoughts. Although China has made enormous economic strides since then, it still insists on an authoritarian political system. This doesn’t mean that there are no avenues for an exchange of views.


To be a dissident is to express oneself publicly and engage actively in a civic discourse. For me, I blog, write books and reach out to the Western media. I began blogging in 2005. My blog has been hacked and shut down by the Chinese. Now I’m on my fifth blog. Of course, the Internet is also a double-edged sword; the dictatorship can use it to serve its purposes, sometimes as tool to hunt down dissidents.


I am a Tibetan, and my voice belongs to Tibet. Almost all of the official Chinese narratives implicitly or explicitly advance the control of my people and my land. When I see my people silenced, wrongfully arrested or persecuted, I turn to the Web to speak out for those who are voiceless. In changing China, the Internet is also changing Tibet and its connection to the world.

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