By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, June 20: Tibetan language rights advocate Tashi Wangchuk has appealed against his sentence, his lawyers said, following a meeting with him on Monday. Wangchuk was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment earlier in May by Yushu Intermediate People’s Court, Jyekundo County in the Kham region of Tibet.
Wangchuk is said to be in good health and determined to fight against his conviction according to his lawyers Liang Xiaojun and Lin Qilei who also said that he is willing to fight further if the High Court upholds the judgement against him.
The Tibetan language rights advocate who was found guilty of “inciting separatism” has filed an appeal against the verdict, at the High Court of Qinghai Province in occupied Tibet.
The 33-year-old 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.
International bodies such as the United Nations and governments around the world including the United States have expressed disappointment over the sentencing of the Tibetan who was seeking rights prescribed to a minority within the Chinese constitution.