News values

Last Thursday, like the rest of the world it seems, I read a story placed prominently in the Times (first inside right-hand page) about a guard dog attacking a teddy bear. Buried about twenty pages further on in the paper, I read a story that I don’t think has received any other coverage or discussion on the blogs I read.

Entitled "Cry for help from writer jailed for a book that no-one saw" , the story tells of an appeal by Dolma Gyab, a young (29-year-old) Tibetan writer who has been jailed for 10 years. "His case has been kept secret since his arrest in March 2005 in Lhasa, where he was teaching history at a city middle school. He had written a 57-chapter book called Restless Himalayas and had also begun a book on Tibetan geography, which was believed to touch on such sensitive topics as the locations of Chinese military camps in Tibet. These unpublished papers were apparently found in his home."

Gyab has now written to the United Nations for help. In the letter he wrote: “They can kill me but they cannot kill the love of nature, science and geography. I want to keep up my courage . . . I would like to draw attention to this situation and ask you to help me.”

According to the Times, Gyab’s sentence is the most severe to be given in Tibet to a "dissident" for several years. "When the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak, visited China in November, he was given access to prisoners at Chusul. But the case of the young writer was not then known. Dolma Gyab writes that he was hidden from the visitor. “I did not have a chance to talk about the real situation here and my unfair trial.” "

The Times also adds:

"Last week officials closed down blogs maintained by the Tibetan writer Woeser, whose works are banned in China. Her blogs addressed such sensitive issues as the recently completed railway to Lhasa and the 40th anniversary of the Cultural Revolution, when most Tibetan temples were destroyed. She told The Times: “This had to happen sooner or later. I will not start another blog but I will continue with my own writing.”

More than 100 writers and dissidents issued a letter yesterday to decry the closing of the Century China website that had been one of the few refuges for relatively unfettered views in the country."

The Times story is at this link.