China defies global outrage over its jailing of Tibetan language rights activist for separatism

Tashi Wangchuk, a 32-year-old Tibetan language rights activist. (Photo courtesy: UNPO)
Tashi Wangchuk, a 32-year-old Tibetan language rights activist. (Photo courtesy: UNPO)

(, May28, 2018) – China has on May 23 brushed aside global outrage over its sentencing on May 22 of a Tibetan language rights activist for an unfounded conviction of ‘inciting separatism’, calling it interference in its internal affairs.

Tashi Wangchuk, a 33-year-old shopkeeper in Yushu Prefecture of Qinghai Province, was arrested on Jan 27, 2016, two months after he was featured in a New York Times video and article about Tibetan language education. He was tried on Jan 4 and later given a five-year jail sentence.

The judicial department of China has dealt with Wangchuk’s case according to local laws and regulations, PTI news agency May 24 quoted China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang as telling the media in Beijing when asked about EU’s criticism of the sentence.

“Hope other countries and governments will not interfere in China’s internal affairs and this will influence bilateral relations between China and other countries,” Lu was quoted as saying.

Apart from the EU and its parliament, the United States, Canada and France, besides international human rights organizations, strongly criticized China for politically criminalizing what was plainly a call for respect for China’s constitution and laws regarding the rights of China’s ethnic minorities to study and use their own respective languages.

“Wangchuk undertook fully legitimate work advocating for the linguistic and cultural rights of Tibetans, as it became known through a documentary film published by the New York Times. The peaceful activity of promoting the use of the Tibetan language in local schools should never be punished as this is a basic human right guaranteed by the Chinese constitution and legal system,” Pier Antonio Panzeri, the Chair of the EU Subcommittee on Human Rights, had said.


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