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China puts Tibetan writer and husband under house arrest amid Kerry visit

Tibetan writer Tsering Woeser, seen here in a 2008 photo, has been placed under house arrest along with her husband, author Wang Lixiong. (AP/Ng Han Guan)

New York, July 9, 2014--Chinese authorities should immediately release two writers who have been placed under house arrest in Beijing, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The move comes as China hosts U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Security officers came to the home of Tsering Woeser and her husband, Wang Lixiong, late Tuesday after the two returned from a trip to northern China, and told them they were being placed under detention at their home, reports said.

Woeser has documented Tibetan human rights issues on her blog Invisible Tibet, which has also been a source of information for CPJ's yearly census of jailed journalists in China. Wang, a scholar and author, has written several books, including Sky Burial: The Fate of Tibet, as well as analysis and opinion columns on Tibet and Xinjiang. His critical op-eds have also appeared in The New York Times.

The writers' detention follows the arrests of several journalists this year. Vague statutory language allows Chinese authorities to silence critical voices by detaining them at home or at secret sites, instead of official detention centers, according to CPJ research. Criticism of China's policies in ethnic minority regions, including Tibet, is particularly sensitive and has landed several journalists in jail.

"We call on Chinese authorities to release Tsering Woeser and Wang Lixiong from detention," said CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Bob Dietz. "These restrictions are the latest in the government's ever-widening attempt to silence critical voices, often without regard to the rule of law."

The officers did not disclose the reason for their detention, according to news reports. However, Woeser wrote on a Facebook page that she believes it is in connection with a dinner invitation she received from the U.S. Embassy. It is unclear whether Kerry was scheduled to attend the dinner, reports said.

Woeser has received public praise from Kerry for her work, and in 2013 the U.S. State Department honored her with its International Women of Courage award.

Kerry is in Beijing for annual discussions with officials as part of the China-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogue.

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