Name: Tashi Wangchuk
Age: 30 on detention
Summary: Tashi Wangchuk, a young Tibetan businessman and language rights advocate has been detained and charged with “inciting separatism”. He had no access to his family until September 2016 and has only seen a lawyer (during police investigations) twice in June and September 2016. He faces up to 15 years in prison and is at risk of torture and other ill- treatment.
Charge: “Inciting separatism”
Sentence: Indicted in January 2017 but not yet tried;
Prison: Yushu Detention Centre
Tashi Wangchuk is a Tibetan shopkeeper and advocate for greater Tibetan language education in schools in Tibet; Chinese has increasing become the predominant language of instruction in Tibet, often being the exclusive language taught.
Detained by Chinese authorities on 27 January 2016 and formally arrested in March 2016 on suspicion of “inciting separatism”, Amnesty International have reported that Tashi Wangchuk has now been indicted and is awaiting trial .
Tashi had no access to his family until September 2016 and, during police investigations, was visited by his lawyers twice in June and September 2016. If convicted of “inciting separatism”, Tashi Wangchuk could face 15 years in prison and is at risk of torture and other ill- treatment.
In 2015 the New York Times, in “A Tibetan’s Journey for Justice” , reported his attempts to file a lawsuit against local officials over the lack of Tibetan language education in schools, but no law firm would help him.
Though critical of the threats to Tibetan language and culture, Tashi has never written about Tibetan independence. His language campaign is in line China’s constitution: “[e]thnic minorities’ right to learn, use and develop their own spoken and written languages is guaranteed in accordance with the law” (Article 4). Amidst China’s current crackdown, Tashi Wangchuk’s case is an example of how Tibetans face additional persecution for any activity perceived as a threat, through charges of “separatism”.
We urge Governments to:
- Raise Tashi Wangchuk’s case urgently with Chinese counterparts, seeking his immediate and unconditional release as he has been detained solely for peacefully exercising his rights;
- Seek evidence about his medical health and treatment while in detention and a guarantee about his protection from torture and other ill-treatment while he is in custody.
- Urge that Tashi Wangchuk be given immediate access to a lawyer of his choice, medical treatment and visits from his family as required under China’s Human Rights Action Plan and the Prison Law of the PRC.
- Seek permission to send observers to his trial.