By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, Dec. 30: Tashi Wangchuk, a young Tibetan entrepreneur and language rights advocate will be tried on charges of “inciting separatism” on Jan. 4 and could face up to 15 years’ sentence, sources said.
The 32-year-old education rights activist was arrested on January 27, 2016 and charged with “inciting separatism” on March 24, 2016, following a New York Times
reportage about him pursuing legal resorts to claim rights prescribed in the Chinese Constitution. He has been held in Yushu Detention Centre in Kyegudo since his arrest.
In 2015, Tashi Wangchuk travelled from his hometown in eastern Tibet to Beijing to try to file a lawsuit against local Chinese authorities for denying Tibetans the right to learn in their own language. His quest was featured in a New York Times
video report and article, ‘Tibetans Fight to Salvage Fading Culture in China’, in November 2015, in which he said, “My goal is to change things a little bit, to push to preserve some of our nation’s culture... The entire Tibetan ethnic nationality and culture is at risk of disappearing.”
Wangchuk’s has been a widely known and advocated case in the international fora. International agencies and rights groups like Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, PEN America, Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, International Campaign for Tibet, Students for a Free Tibet, among others, have called on China to drop the charges against him and release him.
Dharamshala based TCHRD earlier said that they fear that ‘false evidence’ might be used against him through ‘unlawful means’ that the lengthy nature of the case indicates ‘lack of evidence to prove the charge against Tashi’ who had been arrested in Jan. 2016.
Lukar Jam Atsok, a well known former political prisoner and ex- Director of Gu-Chu-Sum Tibetan political movement, speaking to Phayul earlier said that the “unique case” poses a challenge to China. “Since his advocacy is well documented and reported over the last few years, 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.
Tashi Wangchuk had earlier been detained twice for his attempt to go to India on a pilgrimage in 2012 for posting comments condemning the authorities in a land grab case.
With the date for his trial finalised, exile Tibetans and international rights groups have expressed scepticism over the validity of Chinese courts. Recent conviction of activists in China in elaborate court room confessions, many say, are orchestrated with their fates decided in advance by Chinese authorities.