On 22 May 2018, Tashi Wangchuk was found guilty of “inciting separatism” and sentenced to five years in prison.
Tashi Wangchuk has been in detention since January 2016, despite there being no evidence of him ever committing a crime. His appeal was rejected in August 2018 and he is due to remain in prison until 2021.
We are continuing to push for his release.
Tashi Wangchuk is a Tibetan businessman and language advocate from eastern Tibet. He became an advocate for the teaching of the Tibetan language after Tibetan classes were closed down in his local area, prompting concerns that future generations of Tibetans would grow up unable to speak their mother tongue.
In November 2015, he conducted an interview with the New York Times about his language advocacy. Despite the ongoing repression in Tibet, he insisted that his interviews be on the record. The result was an article and a short film on the New York Times website in which Tashi Wangchuk expressed his fears for the future of Tibet's language and culture.
Tashi Wangchuk's language advocacy was peaceful, non-political and conducted through official channels. His goal – that all Tibetan children should have access to Tibetan language instruction – was entirely in line with the Chinese Constitution. He was nevertheless arrested on 27 January 2016. His family were not informed of his arrest. All they knew was that he had disappeared.
On 4 January 2018, after two years in detention, Tashi Wangchuk finally stood trial. Journalists and foreign diplomats who attempted to observe his trial were denied access to the court. Sources have confirmed that the New York Times video was presented as evidence during the hearing. The four-hour hearing concluded without a verdict or a sentence, which finally came on 22 May 2018.
Tashi Wangchuk has always maintained his innocence and no evidence has been brought forward to demonstrate that he has committed a state security crime. His arrest and imprisonment instead appear to stem from his decision to speak to journalists about his work and his fears for Tibet's unique language and culture.
There has been huge international support for Tashi Wangchuk. Free Tibet continues to push for his release.
Take Action for Tashi Wangchuk
The Chinese authorities are well aware of the international attention that Tashi Wangchuk’s case has generated. Free Tibet and our supporters have worked with diplomats and foreign ministries around the world to call for his release. Now we need to press the Chinese authorities directly.
Write to the Chinese Minister of Justice and tell him that Tashi Wangchuk must be immediately released.