Tashi Wangchuk was arrested in 2016. His case has drawn international attention
Tibetan businessman and language advocate Tashi Wangchuk is set to stand trial next week after two years of imprisonment.
According to his lawyers, the trial will be held on the morning of 4 January in Yushu Prefecture's Intermediate Court.
Tashi Wangchuk, 32, will be tried on charges of "inciting separatism", which could see him sentenced to up to 15 years in prison. Human rights organisations, as well as Free Tibet, have long called for these charges to be dropped.
Peacefully protecting Tibet's culture
Tashi Wangchuk, a native of Yushu in eastern Tibet, has been in prison awaiting trial since January 2016, when he was seized by police at his home. His arrest followed an interview with the New York Times in November 2015, accompanied by a short video documentary about his efforts to ensure that Tibetan children all had access to Tibetan language instruction. Despite the risks, Tashi Wangchuk insisted on doing on the record interviews with journalists.
He said that he became an advocate for the teaching of the Tibetan language after Tibetan classes were closed down in his local area. This caused him to fear that future generations of Tibetans would grow up unable to speak their mother tongue.
Despite the charges against him, Tashi Wangchuk was explicit in his desire to be peaceful and non-confrontational as he attempted to persuade his local government to provide Tibetan language information in schools. He made a point of stating that his advocacy was non-political and that he was not attacking the Chinese authorities.
According to figures from the Chinese Supreme People’s Court, the country's conviction rate runs at around 99.9percent. The human rights group Dui Hua has stated that in particularly sensitive cases, sentencing committees in China have even been known to have decided the verdict in advance of the trial.
Supporters of Free Tibet have played a pivotal role raising awareness of Tashi Wangchuk's case, sending letters to the UK Foreign Secretary, the US Secretary of State and ambassadors and foreign ministers around the world, asking them to put pressure on China to ensure that the charges are dropped.
Earlier this year, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, raised Tashi Wangchuk's case during his address at the 36th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
The European Union, the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs and former US Ambassador to China have also condemned Tashi Wangchuk's treatment by China.
Tashi Wangchuk's case has attracted international attention, and Beijing is well aware of the negative response to his continued detention and his potentially harsh sentence. Now we need to raise the pressure like never before. Please urgently contact your embassy in China, asking them to send observers to Tashi Wangchuk's trial.