Tibetan writer says China blocks her from award

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BEIJING (AP) — An outspoken Tibetan writer said Chinese authorities prevented her from receiving a cultural award Thursday at the Dutch ambassador's residence and are keeping her under virtual house arrest.

Poet Tsering Woeser said state security agents told her Wednesday they would not let her attend the low-key, private event to receive the Prince Claus Fund of the Netherlands award for courage in speaking on behalf of the rights of Tibetans.

In an online video chat with The Associated Press, she also said four or five security agents were stationed at her apartment building this week and she had to ask permission to go anywhere. She said officials have not explained their actions.

China's annual legislative session starts in the coming week, and security in the city tightens. This month is also a sensitive time for Tibet, marking several anniversaries, including that of the unsuccessful revolt against China that caused the Dalai Lama to flee in 1959.

Separately, the head of China's top government advisory group launched a new broadside against supporters of the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader.

"The Communist Party committees and governments at all levels must closely rely on the people and resolutely crush the Dalai clique's conspiracy to foment chaos in the Tibetan areas and uphold the harmony and the social stability of the Tibet and the Tibetan areas," Jia Qinglin told participants at a meeting on Tibetan social and economic development.

Beijing police had no immediate comment on Woeser's status.

"Whatever the reason is, the reality is that I do not have freedom anymore," she said.

The Dutch Embassy referred questions to the government in the Hague, which did not immediately respond to emailed questions.

The Dutch fund says on its website that Woeser was named one of the winners of its award because of "her courage in speaking for those who are silenced and oppressed" as well as her political reporting and support of Tibetan culture.

Woeser's willingness to openly confront authorities makes her stand out among Tibetans, most of whom are reluctant to do so because of the harshness of China's repression of the Tibetan region.

In recent weeks, Woeser has posted on her blog photos and information about Tibetans self-immolating to protest Chinese rule as well as the tightening of security in Tibetan areas.

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