Wednesday 26 December 2007, by
China shuts blog that wished Dalai Lama happy birthday
BEIJING (AFP) Monday, 31 July 2006- China has shut down a popular blog by a Tibetan author after she wrote birthday wishes for the Dalai Lama and touched on other sensitive topics, the writer and a website operator told AFP.
The blog also discussed the HIV/AIDS problem in Tibet, the impact of the recently completed Tibet railway on Tibetan culture and the 40th anniversary of what happened in Tibet during the tumultuous Cultural Revolution.
These issues are all considered sensitive by the Chinese communist government, which has ruled Tibet since sending troops in to "liberate" the remote Himalayan region in 1950.
A manager of one of two websites that carried the blogs of Woeser, who only uses one name, told AFP they were ordered to remove the blog.
"On July 28, we received an order from the provincial government to shut her the blog. I don’t know the reason," said the manager of tibetcul.net, Wangxiu Caidan, a Tibetan who gave the Chinese transliteration of her name.
"I believe the order came from the central government."
Wangxiu said the blog was the most popular one on her website, enjoying 280,000 clicks since it was linked to the site in February last year.
Woeser, a Tibetan formerly based in Lhasa but now in Beijing, confirmed her blog had been shut down and criticized authorities for restricting freedom of expression.
"It’s unfortunate. It’s unfair. In this kind of environment in China, it’s very hard to express one’s true opinions and voice," Woeser said.
She said her birthday wishes and poem posted on July 6, the Dalai Lama’s birthday, praised the spiritual leader who has been exiled in India since 1959.
She also posted pictures of yak butter lamps on the site as a birthday gift for him, while other writing praised the Dalai Lama.
"There were a lot of commentaries, which showed Tibetans’ respect for the Dalai Lama," Woeser said.
She said she had no plans to create another blog in the near future but was working on a book about Tibet.
In 2003, China banned "Notes on Tibet," a book Woeser wrote which revealed sensitive religious issues, including how the exiled Dalai Lama was still revered by Tibetans inside Tibet.
China regards the Dalai Lama as a "splittist" bent on seeking independence for the territory, although he insists he only wants limited autonomy for his homeland.