China's top leader in Tibet is urging local authorities to clamp down on Internet and mobile phone use in the region, as Beijing prepares to open its annual National People's Congress and Tibetans honor those who have died protesting Chinese rule.
The state-run Tibet Daily newspaper quotes regional Communist Party chief Chen Quanguo as saying that maintaining stability in the Himalayan region "means everything. Unstable elements must be nipped in the bud and all work at maintaining stability must be deepened."
He also said security forces "must crush hostile forces" led by the Dalai Lama - the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader who is widely revered outside China, while accused by Beijing of fomenting rebellion in Tibetan regions.
China has flooded Tibetan areas with thousands of troops and police in recent weeks, in a push to prevent Tibetan activists from setting themselves on fire to protest Chinese presence in their territories.
The latest crackdown call - just days ahead of the anniversary of deadly unrest in 2011 and 2008 - has reached all the way to Beijing. There, outspoken Tibetan writer-poet Tsering Woeser said Wednesday that security police prevented her from receiving a cultural award from the Dutch ambassador.
In a Skype interview, Tsering Woeser told VOA Tibetan that the Chinese police barred her from attending a low-key private ceremony where she was to receive the 2011 Netherlands-based Prince Claus Fund award. The prize is presented annually to individuals, groups and organizations for their outstanding achievements in the field of culture and development.
The Dutch fund says on its website that they are honoring “courageous Tibetan writer” Woeser for her “active commitment to self-determination, freedom and development in Tibet.”
Tsering Woeser is currently under house arrest. She writes that the State security police have warned her against going anywhere without their permission.
“State Police showed up at my residence today," she said. "They said you cannot go to the embassy. We will stop you from going. It is best if you do not go to collect the award."
Beijing police had no immediate comment, reported Associated Press.
The Chairman of the Fund HRH Prince Frisco was originally supposed to present the award but he was refused a visa to visit China, writes Woeser on her much-read blog. In her blog, Woeser, 44, writes about Tibet. In recent years the blog has become a conduit for news from the Tibetan regions where press have little or no access. She says the Netherlands Embassy was also warned by Beijing officials against presenting the award to her.
Earlier recipients of the Prince Claus Award from China have not been barred from receiving the prize
“Why have I been made the exception? Could it be because I am Tibetan? A dissident writer? ” the writer asked.
Woeser was earlier barred from leaving China to receive the 2007 Norwegian Authors Union Freedom of Expression Prize in Oslo and the International Women's Media foundation’s 2010 Courage in Journalism award in New York.
China's showcase annual legislative session begins next week, and authorities in past years have sought to portray national unity by squelching any and all signs of public dissent in the capital.
For Tibetans, March 17 marks the first anniversary of a widely-reported self-immolation by a young monk whose death triggered the current crackdown.
March 17 is also the fourth anniversary of a larger and deadly Chinese crackdown in Tibetan areas, and the 53rd anniversary of the Dalai Lama's escape to northern India, after a failed uprising in Tibet against Chinese rule.