UN human rights experts condemn jailing of Tashi Wangchuk

6th June 2018

International experts reiterate their calls for release of Tibetan language advocate. 

A group of United Nations human rights experts have criticised the imprisonment of Tashi Wangchuk. On 1 June, six United Nations Special Rapporteurs, working on issues including racial discrimination, arbitrary detention and minority rights, issued a statement expressing their concerns over the decision and calling for his immediate release.

In the statement the six state:

We are gravely concerned about the sentencing of Mr. Tashi Wangchuk, and the sanctioning of his right to freely express his opinion about the human rights of the Tibetan minority of China,

Governments should under no circumstances undermine or repress legitimate human rights advocacy and action, such as in this case, using national security, public order or anti-terrorism discourses

They went on to express concern that their previous efforts, which called for Tashi Wangchuk’s immediate release and for all his charges to be dropped, had been ignored.

The Special Rapporteurs also asked the Chinese government for information on their efforts to promote and protect Tibetan linguistic and cultural rights. They added that: “to date, the Government of China has not yet provided us with a satisfactory response.”

They also joined human rights groups in calling for Tashi’s immediate release and called for him to receive compensation and other reparations.

Tashi Wangchuk leaving the court after his first hearing in January 2018

On 22 May 2018 Chinese authorities announced the imprisonment of Tashi Wangchuk, a prominent advocate of Tibetan cultural and linguistic rights, after finding him guilty of “incitement to separatism”. By that point he had been held in detention for over two years following his arrest in January 2016.

The verdict by the court was met by condemnation from Free Tibet and a number of human rights and Tibetan non-governmental organisations, who have vowed to continue to work for his release

Tashi Wangchuk had long been a prominent member of his community, but came to worldwide attention in late 2015 when he was interviewed by the New York Times  about his quest to ensure that all Tibetan children have access to education in their native language.

This interview and accompanying documentary, produced by the New York Times, were used during the trial as evidence against Tashi Wangchuk, who has always insisted that his work was non-political and within Chinese law.  

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In Tibet the Chinese Communist Party oversees what some have called the world's largest open air prison. The authorities have the power to switch the light on and off, peering into Tibetans' emails one moment and making political prisoners vanish from their families and friends, apparently into darkness, the next. Help us push for Tibet's hidden political prisoners to be found and released.