Tashi Wangchuk trial goes ahead

Tashi Wangchuk's family outside the court last week
Tashi Wangchuk outside the court last week
8th January 2018

Tashi Wangchuk denied "inciting separatism" during his four-hour hearing. He is now awaiting the verdict

Tibetan language activist Tashi Wangchuk stood trial on 4 January after two years of waiting in prison.

During his trial, Tashi Wangchuk was accused of ‘inciting separatism’, a charge which he denied, but which could see him handed a prison sentence of up to 15 years.

After four hours the trial was adjourned. The verdict will be pronounced at a later date.

Hidden from scrutiny

Despite international condemnation, local judiciary pushed ahead with the hearing, which took place at Yushu Prefecture's Intermediate Court.

Authorities took steps to limit access to the hearing. According to The New York Times, a reporter was refused entry to the court room, despite several requests. Diplomats from the United States, Germany, Britain, Canada and the European Union also turned up but were denied access.

More than ten of Tashi Wangchuk's relatives gathered outside the court.  Despite the authorities initially promising to permit 15 people, only three of them were allowed to access the court.

Video evidence

During the trial. which lasted from 9:30 until 13:30 and was conducted in Mandarin, Tashi Wangchuk denied that he sought to split the country, but instead wanted to preserve Tibetan heritage. His lawyers also argued that he was only fighting for rights for minorities, which are promised by Chinese law.

The video ‘A Tibetan's Journey to Justice’ was shown during the trial. This short documentary, made by The New York Times in November, highlights Tashi Wangchuk’s efforts to ensure Tibetan children have access to the Tibetan language.  After the trial, Tashi’s brother-in-law told reporters “the main thing they said against him was the video”, which the authorities had deemed insulting to China.

Human rights organisations including Amnesty International have labelled the trial a “sham”.

One of his lawyers, Liang Xiaojun, tweeted yesterday:

I know many people are concerned about the result of Tashi Wangchuk's final judgement but I won't predict the prison term because we firmly believe that Tashi Wangchuk is innocent....

Information and translation provided by Tibet Watch


Take action

Please contact your embassy in China, urging them to maintain their pressure on the authorities over Tashi Wangchuk's case.