Beijing based writer and blogger Tsering Woeser has won the prestigious International Women of Courage Award given by the US State Department. The awards to this year’s 10 winners will be presented on Friday, March 8, by Secretary John Kerry, and First Lady Michelle Obama. Woeser, who has been barred from travelling to receive her award by the Chinese government has said that she is dedicating the award to the over 100 Tibetan self-immolators who expressed their dissent of China’s policies in Tibet and Tibetan areas.
Speaking to VOA, Woeser said that she thinks of her writings on Tibet as a writer’s obligation to bear witness and to express the truth. She said that she was grateful for the recognition by the US government and that she views the award given to her as an acknowledgement by the international community of the dire situation in Tibet and Tibetan areas in China.
The US State Department said in its announcement of the award on Monday, that Woeser has “emerged as the most prominent Mainland activist speaking out publicly about human rights conditions for China's Tibetan citizens” in a period marked by increasing self-immolations and protests in Tibet.
The State Department’s website acknowledged that Tsering Woeser’s work as a writer and poet, and her embrace of social media platforms, have “given voice to millions of ethnic Tibetans who are prevented from expressing themselves to the outside world due to government efforts to curtail the flow of information.”
Woeser told VOA that she is disappointed at not being able to accept the award and express her gratitude in person, and that in fact she was at present under house arrest in Beijing due to heightened security procedures connected with the ongoing Chinese Party Congress meetings.
The International Women of Courage Award started in 2007, and recognizes women around the globe who have shown exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for women's rights and empowerment, often at great personal risk.