DHARAMSHALA, MAY 22: Tibetan language right activist Tashi Wangchuk has been sentenced to five years imprisonment earlier today by Yushu Intermediate People’s Court, in Jyekundo County in the Kham region of Tibet, his lawyer Liang Xiaojun Tweeted.
Tashi Wangchuk, a 33 year old Tibetan E commerce entrepreneur has been in jail for over two years on what Tibetan exiles call “politically motivated charges” of inciting separatism” following his pursuit to fight for Tibetan people’s right to Tibetan language education.
Tashi was arrested on 27 January 2016 after a New York Times
news article and a video report came out, documenting Tashi’s mission to file a formal complaint against Chinese officials for failing to support Tibetans’ right to Tibetan language education.
Tashi’s lawyers, who had limited access to him during his pre-trial detention, reported that he was subjected to torture and degrading treatment during the first week of detention. According to his lawyers, he was initially held for a lengthy period in a ‘tiger chair’ where he was subjected to arduous interrogation and was repeatedly beaten. His interrogators also threatened to harm his family, they said. Due to China’s secrecy around the announcement of trial outcomes, his lawyers were not allowed inside the court to witness the sentencing.
Tashi’s case had received attention from multiple governments and independent human rights experts. In March 2018 six UN human rights experts expressed serious concern over the ruling by a Chinese court to uphold charges of “incitement to separatism” and called for all charges against him to be dropped. In January 2018, government delegations from the UK, EU, US, Germany and Canada were denied access to witness his trial.
Tibetan NGOs here reacted to today’s sentencing with outrage and condemnation. “Tashi Wangchuk’s sentence is a complete outrage and his trial a travesty of justice,” said Tenzin Jigdal from International Tibet Network. “He has already lost over 2 years of liberty and now won’t be free until January 2021 because he has been criminalised for shedding light on China’s failure to protect the basic human right to education and for taking entirely lawful steps to press for Tibetan language education. We urge governments to make strong, urgent representations to China, calling for Tashi Wangchuk’s immediate and unconditional release.”
A member of Tibetan parliament and Australia Tibet Council’s Executive Director, Kyinzom Dhongdue, said Tibetans and Tibet supporters are outraged at China’s cowardly sentencing of a Tibetan acting entirely within the Chinese Constitution. “We will continue to press at the highest levels for governments to call on China to overturn this sentence. Tashi has committed no crime and his imprisonment is a perversion of international law.”
Tashi Wangchuk was awarded the International Tibet Network’s ‘Tenzin Delek Rinpoche Medal of Courage’ in July 2017; an annual award given to Tibetan human rights defenders who show deep commitment to enhancing the freedom and rights of the Tibetan people at great personal risk.