Tashi Wangchuk

Tashi Wangchuk བཀྲ་ཤིས་དབང་ཕྱུག་

Tashi Wangchuk, a young Tibetan businessman and language rights advocate, was detained following an interview with the New York Times on Tibetan culture and language quoting him as saying Tibet should have greater regional autonomy under Chinese governance.

URGENT UPDATE: 18 January 2017: Amnesty has reported that that Tashi Wangchuk has been indicted and will face trial very soon. They state that a document, submitted to the Procuratorate (Prosecutor) by Chinese police and reviewed by defence lawyers, indicated that the investigation into Tashi Wangchuk focused on the New York Times documentary (see below) detailing his unsuccessful efforts to use the legal system to challenge Chinese government policies.

Tashi Wangchuk is a Tibetan shopkeeper and advocate for greater Tibetan language education in schools in Tibet where mandarin has become the sole language of instruction. He was detained by Chinese authorities on 27 January 2016 and formally arrested in March 2016 on suspicion of “inciting separatism”.

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.

He expressed his anxieties on social media about Tibetan children being unable to speak their native language fluently, and the gradual extinction of Tibetan culture. 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”.

Tashi Wangchuk told the New York Times that one of the reasons he sought to highlight the importance of language was because he could not find a place where his two teenage nieces could continue studying Tibetan, after officials forced an informal school run by monks in his area to stop offering language classes for laypeople. Officials had also ordered other monasteries and a private school in the area not to teach the language to laypeople. And public schools had dropped true bilingual education in Chinese and Tibetan, teaching Tibetan only in a single class, like a foreign language, if they taught it at all

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”.

His lawyer, Liang Xiaojun, who works at the Beijing Dao Heng Law Firm [2] said: “All he wants is to try to preserve Tibetan culture.” [3] According to information from the lawyer cited by the New York Times, the police concluded an additional investigation at the prosecutor’s request on 25 August 2016 and handed over those results. Prosecutors now have about 90 days to decide whether the case should go to court. Tashi Wangchuk is being held at the main detention center in Yushu (in the Tibetan area of Kham), where he normally lives with his elderly parents.

Language is a bedrock of any culture and identity and the Tibetan language has been steadily undermined under Chinese rule over the past six decades. [4] The increasing dominance of the Chinese language is used by Chinese authorities to further undermine Tibetan culture, and the marginalization of the Tibetan language, including its withdrawal from the curriculum, is counter to provisions in China’s own laws, specifically the Regional Ethnic Autonomy Law; Chinese legal protections for language and culture are not implemented in Tibet.

Please write immediately in Chinese, English or your own language:

  • Urge the authorities to release Tashi Wangchuk immediately and unconditionally as he has been detained solely for peacefully exercising his right;
  • Seek assurances that he has regular, unrestricted access to his family and lawyer of his choice, without delay, and is protected from torture and other ill-treatment;
  • Urge the authorities to provide immediate guarantees for his safety and to give assurances that he is not tortured or otherwise ill-treated in detention;
  • Appeal to the authorities to respect the fundamental right to freedom of expression, including with respect to those who peacefully express criticism of the government or views that are contrary to the state policies.

Send Letters To;

1. Police Chief: Qiao Yanpei
Public Security Bureau
Yushu People’s Government
Shengli Lu Yushu,
Qinghai 815000
People’s Republic of China

Salutation: Dear Police Chief

2. Director: Wang Zhengsheng
Qinghai Provincial Administration of Security
50 Bayi Zhonglu Xining
Qinghai 810007
People’s Republic of China

Salutation: Dear Director

3. Governor Hao Peng
Qinghai Provincial Government Office
12 Xi Dajie Xining
Qinghai 810000
People’s Republic of China

Fax: +86 0971 8252135
Email: qhsxxgk@163.com
Salutation: Dear Governor

SEND A SOLIDARITY MESSAGE TO:

Tashi Wangchuk | བཀྲ་ཤིས་དབང་ཕྱུག་
℅ Yushu Public Security Bureau,
Minzhu Rd,
Yushu Shi, Yushu Zangzuzizhizhou,
Qinghai Sheng, China, 815000
People’s Republic of China

In Chinese:
Tashi Wangchuk | བཀྲ་ཤིས་དབང་ཕྱུག་ | 扎西旺珠(音)
DOWNLOAD ADDRESSES

Language: English, Tibetan or in your own language

Salutation: Dear Tashi Wangchuk la

Sample Message:

Dear Tashi Wangchuk la

I’m writing to you from [ADD YOUR COUNTRY]. Please know that I  and many others around the world are thinking of you and hope very much for you release.

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Key Facts

Age: 30 on detention
Summary: Tashi Wangchuk, a young Tibetan businessman and language rights advocate, was detained following an interview with the New York Times on Tibetan culture and language quoting him as saying Tibet should have greater regional autonomy under Chinese governance.
Charge: “inciting separatism”, despite the fact he has not advocated for Tibetan independence
Sentence: He could face up to 15 years in prison if found guilty.
Prison: Unknown
Status: Awaiting trial. He is at risk of torture and other ill- treatment.