By Tenzin Dharpo
Tashi Wangchuk, a Tibetan entrepreneur and education advocate, at his home in Yushu, Tibet, in July. Mr. Tashi was detained in January and held in secret until his family was notified this month. Photo: Gilles Sabrie for The New York Times
DHARAMSHALA, March 31: China has charged a Tibetan businessman who advocated teaching Tibetan language in schools across Tibet with ‘inciting separatism’.
The 30 year old local businessman from Kyegudo (Ch: Yushu) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province, in the Tibetan province of Kham was a subject of a New York Times
reportage including a short documentary video on ethnic Tibetan pursuing legal resorts to claim rights prescribed in the Chinese Constitution. The abrupt notice to his family of his detention and the charges of inciting separatism surfaced just few days ago on March 24, according to New York Times.
Lukar Jam Atsok, a former political prisoner and the Director of Gu-Chu-Sum Tibetan political movement, speaking to Phayul said that the “unique case” poses a challenge to China. “Since his (Tashi Wangchuk) advocacy is well documented and reported over the last few months establishing the fact that he is pushing for Tibetan education for Tibetans and that his fight is devoid of any political affiliation other than his concern for the Tibetan culture and its plight. The transparency of his activism will challenge China which has to recognize that this is a case that has risen from the realities on the ground and is demanding rights prescribed within the CCP Constitution,” he said.
Despite international calls for his release by organizations such as Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy and planned petitions by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression in support of the detained activist, Lukar feels how China deals with this case will determine the legitimacy of its claim of being a country with ‘rule of law’.
Tashi has earlier been detained when he attempted to go to India on a pilgrimage over a decade ago and in 2012, for posting online condemnation of authorities in a land grab case.
Tashi's family has not been able to find a lawyer for him.
Tashi believes that the Tibetan language not being used in government offices is a violation of the Chinese Constitution, which guarantees cultural autonomy for Tibetan and other ethnic minorities.
Tashi sells goods to buyers across China on Taobao, an e-tailer run by Alibaba, the e-commerce giant. In 2014, Alibaba chose Tashi to be featured in a promotional video for the company’s investor roadshow.