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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?"

Woeser's Acceptance Speech: International Women's Media Foundation Courage in Journalism Award, 2010

October 25, 2010

High Peaks Pure Earth is re-posting Woeser's
acceptance speech that was sent to the
International Women's Media Foundation on the
occasion of being awarded their Courage in Journalism Award, 2010.
High Peaks Pure Earth
October 21, 2010

Woeser posted the speech on her blog on October
20, 2010, a day after the awards ceremony took
place in New York. As reported by the media,
Woeser was unable to attend the ceremony as the
Chinese government refuses to grant her a passport.

Woeser's acceptance speech was translated into
English by A. E. Clark of Ragged Banner. For
those who have not yet read Woeser's poetry, High
Peaks Pure Earth recommends the volume published
by Ragged Banner titled "Tibet's True Heart".

International Women's Media Foundation Courage in Journalism Award, 2010

Acceptance Speech by Tsering Woeser

Ladies and Gentlemen:

My heartfelt thanks to the International Women's
Media Foundation for its Courage in Journalism
Award.  Since the Chinese government will not
give me a passport, I am unable to come and
accept this honor in person.  But my spirit
cannot be locked away, and I feel I am with you
now, touched by your kind encouragement.

I am not really a journalist or media person in
the traditional sense. In this Age of the
Internet, I have taken my books, my blog, my
regular commentaries for radio, Twitter, and
Facebook — as well as a camera, a camcorder, and
the interviews I give reporters — and combined
them into a new medium:  a one-person medium.  I
began deliberately using this approach in March
of 2008.  At that time, protests which had spread
across Tibet were being violently suppressed, but
the Chinese government was using its monopoly on
information to make sure people could hear only
its distorted account, blasted at high
volume.  The might of this world was asserting
its power over the facts, and I realized that
unless I could find some way, working by myself,
to record what was happening and get the news
out, the anguish of an entire people would vanish
forever behind a veil of darkness.  History would
be rewritten; memories would be buried; our
descendants would never know the sacrifices their ancestors had made.

I was then in Beijing, the imperial
capital.  Using both traditional and modern tools
of communication, I contacted people on the scene
and wove a network that covered all the Tibetan
lands.  Some of my sources were acquaintances;
others I had never met.  With their help I
gathered factual accounts of what was happening,
and each day posted the information to my blog so
that the world could know, in real time, how
Tibet was being engulfed in blood and fire. At
that time I was the only channel through which
Tibetans inside the PRC could make their voices
heard, and my blog received several million hits,
as the work of one person standing against the
propaganda machine of a colossal State.

I want to thank these friends of mine, though I
cannot mention their names; we supported and
encouraged each other through those hard
days.  Though we found ourselves in different
places, we had all become witnesses and reporters
at the same epochal moment in history.  I
remember what a young Tibetan told me from Lhasa
late one night, just after the protests
erupted:  “Although we often have the words
'nationality' and 'Tibet' on our lips, when
things get really bad it's usually the humblest
stratum of the common people who take the risks
and step out in front.  They're a lot braver than
we are.”  But in fact this young man was seized
for taking photographs and was detained for nearly two months.

My blog was destroyed by hackers and my Skype
account was hijacked.  Each day was like combat,
with events in constant flux as on a
battlefield.  Again and again, my friends helped
me keep going.  In the face of constant threats
from the political police, I packed a small bag
with articles I would need in prison and kept it within reach.

Later I traveled through the Tibetan region
taking notes and pictures.  The entire journey I
was followed and repeatedly intercepted and
questioned.  The police limited my contacts with
Tibetans and interrogated any who had dealings
with me.  They were trying to make me someone no
one would talk to.  While I was in Lhasa, a squad
of police raided my mother's apartment and took
me away after searching my room and confiscating
my materials.  It was on account of the Beijing
Olympics which were then underway.  Eventually
they let me go.  This experience is actually not unusual for
Tibetans living under dictatorship.

Even now, every kind of inhumanity and injustice
is still being visited upon Tibet. Many
outstanding people, innocent people, have been
arrested and sentenced and are suffering
unimaginable torment. I will keep my one-person
media operation going, for it is the weapon of
the powerless. To be sure, this weapon consists
of the written word; it rests on principles of
nonviolence and noncooperation; it draws its
energy from our religion, traditions, and
culture, as well as the broken condition to which
we have been reduced; these provide the strength
with which we resist oppression and are the
reason why I will never give up or
compromise.  The support that comes in from every
side, including from you, is a lasting source of my courage.

Tashi Delek!

August 28, 2010
Beijing
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