Friday, April 24, 2009

Tibetan Blogging as a Form of Diplomacy

The Saturday profile in the New York Times of Tibetan blogger Ms. Woeser by Andrew Jacobs portrays a woman who accurately displays the situation in Tibet to the outside world.  While not a politician, the poet and photographer has depicted the current situation on one of her online blogs, Invisible Tibet, since 2005.  Robert Barnett at Columbia University remarked that “She is not a politician but a poet who quite late in her career started talking about politics,” and further asserted that “She is an eloquent reminder of what’s happening in Tibet.”  While her blog was just blocked by the Great Firewall in China, it is usually the only source of news because of her conscious effort to remain outside of the political spectrum and use poetry to present her views.  She has recorded the disappearances, beatings, and deaths of Tibetans at the hands of the Chinese.  Because her information is considered accurate, it has often been utilized by the international media and press. 


For her actions, Woeser and her husband have been placed under house arrest, followed, and interrogated by the police and security force.  Additionally, her friends and witnesses are scared to talk to her because they are victims of abuse by the police for their actions.  Upon returning home to Tibet, the police harassed her mother. 


Woeser resides in China but returns to Lhasa on a regular basis.  Her father was a strong Communist supporter and worked for the government.  Surrounded by an education and life filled with Chinese propaganda, it was only later in life that she was able to recognize her Tibetan roots.


Her information is utilized to mobilize the people inside and outside of Tibet.  In the absence of a free Tibetan government, the bloggers have led the movement for change both nationally and internationally.  They have mobilized protests and given light to a variety of human rights issues.  Due to accounts of human rights abuse, China often has to account for the treatment of Tibetans.  While blogging has been ineffective at dramatically altering Chinese policy, it has plagued China’s human rights record and stands in the way of the country gaining clout equal to the Western world.

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