By Tenzin Monlam
DHARAMSHALA, February 22: A group of United Nation’s human rights experts expressing serious concern over court’s ruling in the case of Tibetan linguistic rights activist said that the charges of ‘incitement of separatism’ against Tashi Wangchuk should be dropped.
“We condemn the continued detention of Mr. Wangchuk and the criminalization of his freedom of expression as well as his right to stand and speak up for what he perceives as human rights violations in his region and country,” the experts said.
Reminding the Chinese authorities of the rights of individuals belonging to minorities to use and promote their own culture and languages without ‘restrictions, and without fear of reprisals or criminalization’ the experts said. “Free exchange of views about State policies, including criticism against policies and actions that appear to have a negative impact on the lives of people need to be protected and further encouraged.”
The group has urged the officials to release Tashi immediately and provide him an ‘enforceable right to compensation’ in accordance with international law. The group also confirmed that it has notified Beijing about their concerns.
US-based advocacy group, International Campaign for Tibet (ICT,) welcomed the experts’ call for his immediate release and to drop all charges against the activist. “Tashi Wangchuk has done nothing more than defending rights which are protected by the Chinese constitution and international law; if he is convicted, this would be in blatant contravention of his right to freedom of opinion and expression,” said Matteo Mecacci, ICT President.
In 2015, Tashi Wangchuk travelled to Beijing to file a lawsuit against local Chinese authorities for denying Tibetans the right to learn Tibetan. His journey featured in a New York Times (NYT) video report and article 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.”
Two months later, in January 2016, Tashi was detained and in March 2016 he was charged with ‘inciting separatism’ facing up to 15 years in prison.
Under article 103 section 2 of the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China, Yushu Intermediate Court on January 4, 2018 upheld the charges against him using the video reportage as prime evidence against him.