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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?"

Tibet's most famous woman blogger, Woeser, detained by police

August 27, 2008

By Jane Macartney in Beijing
Times Online, UK
August 26, 2008

Tibet's most famous woman writer and blogger has been questioned by
police for eight hours, accused of taking photographs on the street,
after she returned home briefly to the capital, Lhasa.

The detention of Woeser, who like many Tibetans goes by a single
name, underscores the nervousness of the authorities in the Himalayan
city, where Tibetans restive under Beijing rule rioted in the streets
in March, killing 22 people and setting fire to hundreds of offices
and businesses.

Eight police arrived at the home of Woeser's mother on Thursday and
presented her with a summons to accompany them for questioning. Her
husband, the author Wang Lixiong, said: "They had used the wrong name
on the document so I insisted that they correct the name before they
could take her away. I reminded them that they had to bring her home
within the stipulated 12 hours."

She was held for questioning by several officers who said that they
were acting on a tip-off from a member of the public, who had seen
her taking photographs of army and police positions in Lhasa from
inside a taxi.

Mr Wang, who spoke on behalf of his wife because he was worried for
her safety, told The Times: "She told them that it was not illegal to
take photographs in a public place and she had not visited any secret
areas or military installations. They had no legal basis for holding
her." The police searched her mother's home and removed several
documents as well as Mr Wang's computer.

They hacked his password, checked all documents on the laptop and
required Woeser to erase every photograph that showed a policeman or
army officer on the streets of Lhasa or in Tibetan areas they had visited.

Mr Wang said: "I can't say whether their intention was to intimidate.
But if they can do this to an influential writer who has done nothing
more than take photographs, then one can only imagine the kind of
threat that ordinary people in Tibet must feel every day."

The couple decided to return home to Beijing as soon as they could
get flights, but first organised a reunion party with Woeser's many
family and friends in the city. However, many did not attend,
apparently afraid of possible consequences after her encounter with
the police. The couple flew back to Beijing on Saturday, less than 48
hours after her summons and six days into a planned month-long visit to Lhasa.

Woeser has become one of the best-known Tibetan personalities, first
as a poet whose works were approved by the Government and then as a
dissident author after her first book of prose was banned in 2003.
She has since not been allowed to publish in China, but the
restrictions have failed to deter her.

She was forced to place the blog that she began in 2005 on a server
outside China after it was repeatedly hacked and closed. Her current
blog -- woeser.middle-way.net -- is the most popular site for many
Tibetans and has recorded three million hits since she launched it on
an overseas server early last year. The Tibetan capital remains under
lockdown. The city is patrolled by police and paramilitary forces,
many deployed around the Jokhang Temple, the holiest shrine in
Tibetan Buddhism in the heart of the Old City. On the pilgrim route
that circles the temple, at least four teams of paramilitary police
are on guard around the clock.

Each comprises five men carrying automatic rifles who patrol a
section of the route. Buddhist faithful twirling prayer wheels,
telling rosaries and performing prostrations wend their way among the
armed men. Some of the teams, dressed in camouflage, have recently
been replaced by patrols carrying what appear to be teargas launchers
in tubes on their backs. Paramilitary officers stand at bus stops,
while police borad buses at each stop to check for anyone suspicious.
Armed police in camouflage, some helmeted, others carrying riot
shields and electric batons, are deployed at road junctions. They
stand in groups, facing out to scan the street.

Once night falls, lorries filled with paramilitaries drive through
the streets at barely more than a walking pace. These patrols and the
police presence are limited almost entirely to the Old City. In the
newer areas of Lhasa, where most ethnic Han Chinese live, there is
little sign of increased security.
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