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  Tashi Wangchuk Freedom

A young Tibetan named Tashi Wangchuk, age 32, who advocates for Tibetan language education, was detained and charged with “inciting separatism” on January 27, 2016, in Yushu, Qinghai Province. He was tried on January 4, 2018. The only evidence presented by the prosecution was a nine-minute video about him produced by the New York Times. On May 22, 2018, Tashi Wangchuk was sentenced to five years imprisonment for "inciting separatism". He has indicated that he will appeal the verdict, and is currently housed in the Yushu City Detention Center.

Amnesty International Press Release on the verdict.

Tashi Wangchuk is an advocate for greater Tibetan language education in schools where the population is Tibetan. On social media he has expressed his anxieties about many Tibetan children being unable to speak their mother tongue fluently and about the gradual loss of Tibetan culture.

The Constitution of the People’s Republic of China guarantees ethnic minorities the freedom to use and develop their ethnic languages and to maintain their own cultural and social customs. He does not advocate independence for Tibet and has praised President Xi Jinping for having “promoted a democratic and law-abiding country these last few years”. Therefore he is only peacefully advocating for rights already guaranteed in the constitution.

U.N. Human Rights experts condemn the verdict.

Background

Currently, Mandarin has become the sole language of instruction in Tibetan populated areas.

Ethnic Tibetans in China face discrimination and restrictions on their rights to freedom of religious belief, expression, association and peaceful assembly. Tibetan monks, writers, protesters and activists are regularly detained as a result of their peaceful activities. On 17 February 2016, Tibetan writer and blogger Druklo (pen-name Shokjang) was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment by the Peoples’ Intermediate Court in Huangnan (Malho), Qinghai province, for “inciting separatism”, for his online posts on religious freedom, the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan issues and his possession of the banned book Sky Burial.

In recent years the Chinese government has enacted or drafted a series of sweeping laws and regulations under the pretext of enhancing national security. There are fears that they could be used to silence dissent and crack down on human rights defenders through expansive charges such as “inciting subversion” and “separatism”.

Harsh criminal sentences continue to be imposed in China on writers, bloggers, journalists, academics, whistle-blowers and ordinary citizens for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression. Amnesty International has documented the misuse of the various charges of “separatism” and “terrorism” to violate the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and religion.

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