By Tenzin Dharpo
Tibetan language rights activist Tashi Wangchuk. photo- Onlooker
DHARAMSHALA, Aug. 24: Tibetan language rights advocate Tashi Wangchuk’s appeal against his five-year prison term has been rejected by a Chinese court, his lawyer announced Thursday on social media.
Liang Xiaojun, Wangchuk's lawyer, announced via social media that the Qinghai Higher People’s Court has upheld the sentence and that the court dismissed arguments from him and the Tibetan language activists. Xiaojun said the ruling was announced in the Yushu City Detention Center on August 13.
In June earlier this year, Wangchuk appealed against his sentence after he was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment the month before by Yushu Intermediate People’s Court, Jyekundo County in the Kham region of Tibet for “inciting separatism”.
The 33-year-old was arrested on 27 January 2016 after a New York Times
news article and a video report, 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.
Tashi’s case received international attention with many alleging he did not receive a free trial and that his plight resembled many of those in Tibet who are convicted by puppet Chinese courts.
Central Tibetan Administration President Dr. Lobsang Sangay said, “It is not surprising that the appeal court upheld Tashi Wangchuk’s unfair sentence. China continues to violate international law and its own domestic laws with impunity.”
Bhuchung K. Tsering, Vice President of International Campaign for Tibet and a political commentator, said, “The rejection of this appeal is a clear and chilling indication of the shift in Chinese policy towards criminalization of Tibetan culture itself – attacking individuals and groups who simply seek to promote their language. Tashi Wangchuk should be released immediately and unconditionally.”