News and Views on Tibet

Former political prisoner interrogated for his language advocacy

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Tibetan language activist Tashi Wangchuk on Jan 17, 2022 (Photo/Weibo)

By Choekyi Lhamo

DHARAMSHALA, Jan. 19: The former political prisoner Tashi Wangchuk, known for his advocacy of language rights, was again interrogated for calling out the Chinese government on language restrictions in the public domain. The Tibetan activist had spent five years in prison for “inciting separatism” after he spoke to The New York Times about the problems Tibetans faced in 2015.

The activist said on his Weibo account that the incident with the Chinese police took place on Monday, where he was summoned and questioned for his appeal to the Chinese authorities to allow the use of Tibetan language in schools, government jobs and other sectors. “One of the questions I was asked under interrogation was who had given me the responsibility to advocate for use of the Tibetan language,” Wangchuk said in his post, adding that the officials are simply using their power to stop the public from addressing these problems.

“This is how the Tibetan language has been endangered, and this is how I am raising awareness among government officials of the language rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China,” he further wrote. The 35-year-old was released in January last year after completing his five-year sentence but is currently serving five years of deprivation of political rights as per his sentence.

The RFA service reported that Wangchuk had expressed similar sentiments on Weibo on January 3 where he said, “With no exams allowed in the Tibetan language for Tibetans applying for government jobs, young Tibetans have no choice but to study Chinese in their schools and ignore their own language.” The former shopkeeper from Kyegudo (Ch: Yushu) in Eastern Kham was the subject of a NYT coverage where he spoke extensively about his advocacy to protect the Tibetan language under the Chinese government, and insisted that his interview be put on public record, rejecting the opportunity to make his remarks anonymously.

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