The International Women’s Media Foundation recently awarded the Tibetan blogger, poet and dissident Woeser their 2010 Courage in Journalism Award. While Woeser was denied a passport by the Chinese government and unable to attend, she sent an acceptance speech, which High Peaks Pure Earth has posted. She tells the story of her rise to prominence, particularly around the 2008 Tibetan national uprising and the violent crackdown by the Chinese government that followed it, including a near-total media blackout. It’s a reminder of her heroic efforts to tell the world what was happening inside Tibet, at great personal risk and facing intense intimidation from authorities.
But her writing on the role she plays more broadly and where things currently stand for Tibet is even more powerful:
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.
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.
Definitely give the whole speech a read.