1 March 2012

Vragen van het lid Van Bommel (SP) aan de minister van Buitenlandse Zaken over het huisarrest van de Tibetaanse schrijfster Tsering Woeser

1 maart 2012

Harry van Bommel (SP) heeft vandaag kamervragen gesteld aan minister Rosenthal van Buitenlandse Zaken naar aanleiding van het huisarrest van de Tibetaanse schrijfster Woeser. Woeser kreeg huisarrest van de Chinese autoriteiten nadat zij verklaarde haar onderscheiding van het Prins Claus Fonds in ontvangst te willen nemen op de Nederlandse ambassade in Peking.

De vragen van Harry van Bommel aan de minister waren:

1. Is het juist dat de Tibetaanse schrijfster Tsering Woeser huisarrest heeft gekregen en hierdoor niet in staat is de aan haar toegekende onderscheiding van het Prins Claus Fonds in ontvangst te nemen? 
2. Is er een directe relatie tussen het huisarrest en de uitnodiging aan Tsering Woeser om de onderscheiding op de Nederlandse ambassade in Peking in ontvangst te nemen?
3. Wat is de formele reden die de Chinese autoriteiten geven voor het huisarrest van Tsering Woeser?
4. Bent u bereid er bij de Chinese autoriteiten op aan te dringen het huisarrest op te heffen zodat Tsering Woeser toch in staat is om de onderscheiding van het Prins Claus Fonds in ontvangst te nemen? Indien neen, waarom niet?

Hieronder volgt de reactie van Woeser zelf, in het Engels:

It’s like this. I was fortunate enough to have been named the 2011 laureate of the Prince Claus Fund, based in the Netherlands. Originally I was supposed to receive the prize tomorrow from the Netherlands Embassy, on behalf of the Prince Claus Fund. The Chairman of the Fund was also originally supposed to come to award the prize but he was refused a visa by the Chinese Embassy in the Netherlands and was unable to come to Beijing. The Netherlands Embassy was also warned not to award the prize to me.

In the Netherlands the Chinese side (probably the Chinese Embassy) yesterday informed the Netherlands that it had requested that the Netherlands Embassy in Beijing should not award me the prize. But the Netherlands Embassy stated that it was still going to award me the prize, but at a fairly private ceremony in the embassy residence. I had, moreover, invited several friends. I thought this shouldn’t be a problem, that it was equivalent to attending a private dinner party.

But at 6 o’clock in the evening a telephone call came from the State Security unit of the Beijing Public Security Bureau, saying they wanted to meet with me. I guessed what the issue was, but I hadn’t thought that those among my friends whom I’d asked to the dinner would also be notified by State Security that they were not permitted to attend the awarding of the prize. Sometime after 8 o’clock two pandas [n.b., slang for the State Security police] showed up. My husband Wang Lixiong went to see them in my place. It took a bit of time. They said I could not go to the Netherlands Embassy tomorrow.

The pandas also said: for the month of March I would not be able to go out. If I wanted to go out it would have to be with them following along. Actually, two weeks earlier they had already set up a post and were sitting downstairs in a dispatch room. But now they had a car parked downstairs (and there were people in the car). Afterwards we analyzed it. It was not just about the Prince Claus Prize. It was connected to the two congresses and it was connected to Tibet.

This, then, is the issue. So, thank you all my twitter friends. In any case, I’ve already been invited to “drink tea” four times over the last two months. But compared to what’s happened to many other people this isn’t much. Wang Lixiong said “Among your people are those who have committed self-immolation, been arrested, and disappeared. That you’ve lost out on attending an award dinner doesn’t count as very much; a month of house arrest at home doesn’t count as very much.”

Wang Lixiong said “Your people are suffering; you shouldn’t attend a dinner party.” That’s what he said. But I was still very sad. Xiao Han and A Hua came by especially to comfort me. A Hua said, on Weibo, “It’s not easy for me to find an opportunity to get all dressed up and now I’ve lost it. Anyone who won’t let a beautiful woman wear pretty clothes is a despicable bastard!” Not bad; they’re all despicable bastards!

But thinking about it, it’s quite stupendous: the activity stemming from the Netherlands Embassy stepping in to award the prize. Earlier Cui Jian, Li Xianting, Jia Zhangke, etc., all from China, were awarded the Prince Claus Prize. I’ve never heard of anyone being stopped and not permitted to go and get their prize. Why have I been “made the exception”? Could it be because I’m Tibetan? A dissident writer? Suddenly the Chinese Foreign Ministry has been disturbed and has had to get to work and issue bans. And they’ve had to send State Security around! The Communist Party is so cool!

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