Tibetan Writer Woeser Detained on Arrival at Lhasa Airport

tibet-woeser-2009.jpg Woeser in an undated photo.

Updated at 2.45 p.m. ET on 2014-08-08

Beijing-based Tibetan poet and writer Tsering Woeser said Chinese authorities detained and “intimidated” her during three hours of interrogations on arrival at the airport in the Tibetan capital Lhasa.

She said on her Twitter account that security personnel searched through all of her personal belongings and interrogated her after detaining her as she was about to leave the departure gate at Lhasa Gonggar Airport at 11 a.m. local time.

“Chinese security personnel stopped me before I left the main departure gate,” Woeser said.

“They interrogated me and went through my personal belongings in my handbag, taking pictures of my lingerie, medicine, cosmetics, books and DVDs, and even copying all the contents of my computer. They also thoroughly checked my cell phone.”

Woeser said that airport security had “intimidated” her during the three-hour interrogation.

“Last year I had the same problem, but this time the one thing I couldn't tolerate was that they even interrogated my 72-year-old mother yesterday [Aug. 7],” she said.

Her mother lives in Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).

Woeser told RFA's Mandarin Service via Skype that it was inconvenient for her to be interviewed because “the authorities told me that they would 'take actions' if they found my conduct during my stay in Lhasa unacceptable.”

Chinese authorities frequently subject Woeser—an outspoken writer who has criticized Beijing’s policies in Tibet—to tight restrictions and surveillance, particularly during visits from western dignitaries to the Chinese capital.

Last month, she was placed under house arrest along with her husband at her Beijing home as Chinese officials began a high-profile round of annual talks with a U.S. delegation led by Secretary of State John Kerry.

She said the move came after she posted on Twitter and Facebook that she had received an invitation from officials at the U.S. Embassy to attend a meeting and banquet.

Woeser “has emerged as the most prominent mainland activist speaking out publicly about human rights conditions” for Tibetans, the U.S. State Department said in a statement after she won its "Woman of Courage" award in 2013.

Her website Invisible Tibet, together with her poetry and nonfiction and writings on social media have given a voice to millions of Tibetans "who are prevented from expressing themselves to the outside world due to government efforts to curtail the flow of information," the State Department said.

Woeser was prevented from leaving China to collect the award in person.

Reported by Dolkar for RFA’s Tibetan Service and Tang Qiwei for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated by Rigdhen Dolma and Jennifer Chou. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.


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