DHARAMSALA, 23 Aug: Subjected to constantan surveillance, Tibetan language advocate and former political prisoner Tashi Wangchuk has been brutally thrashed by a group of unidentified, masked men at a hotel in Golok in eastern Tibet, while the apathy of the authorities-police and doctor- has forced him to spend a night on a stool in the hospital on Saturday.
A group of unidentified, masked men forced open the hotel room door where Tashi Wangchuk was staying around 8 pm(local time) on 19 August and attacked him, Free Tibet, the London-based advocacy group reported.
Tashi Wangchuk “was beaten and kicked by a group of men wearing masks for around 10 minutes,” the advocacy group added.
The report highlights the apathy of the police and the hotel owner adding that “Wangchuk begged the group to stop attacking him and called the hotel owner to contact the police.”
The audacity of the police not just saw them arrive at the hotel room an hour later, but extended to harassing the language advocate and former political prisoner by taking him to the police station for questioning till 1:30 pm.
During the interrogation, the “police forced Wangchuk to erase photos and videos he had taken earlier that day from his phone.”
Further, he was rejected from the hotel he was staying in and several other hotels, the report added.
His request to check his head to a doctor at Darlak County Hospital was met with the doctor declaring the CT scan out of service.
The apathy of the authorities-police and doctor-forced Wangchuk to spend the night on a stool on the first floor of the hospital, where Free Tibet said he composed a detailed account of the day’s events, including his beating and what he referred to as “crime by gangs and illegal acts by government officials who break the law and cover for each other.
Free Tibet confirmed that Tashi Wangchuk travelled to Darlak County in Golok in eastern Tibet on the evening of the day the incident occurred with the aim of raising awareness about the disappearance of the Tibetan language.
The advocacy group further said that Wangchuk filmed a video near Darlak County Nationality Middle School, which he posted on the Chinese social media platform Douyin before travelling to a hotel where he was hoping to stay.
“He believes he was followed to his hotel from the school.”
John Jones, Free Tibet, Campaigns and Advocacy Manager has said in a statement issued by the group that “Whoever carried it out, this attack on Tashi Wangchuk is hugely concerning.”
“Tashi Wangchuk always was, and remains a peaceful advocate for promoting the Tibetan language, a language that is facing an existential threat. He has already sacrificed his liberty and safety to urge China to comply with its own constitution and allow the teaching of Tibetan.”
“Authorities must act on these concerns and guarantee that Tashi Wangchuk sees no further threats of violence or imprisonment. We, and the world, are watching,” he concluded.
Though Wangchuk was released in Jan 2021 after completing a five-year sentence on ‘trumped-up charges ‘of ‘inciting separatism,’ the Tibetan language advocate still remains under scrutiny and surveillance as continues his campaign after his release.
Even after his release, “his sentence continues with a five-year deprivation of political rights which means that he will not have the rights to “free expression, association, assembly, publication, vote, and to stand in elections” and will see him under constant surveillance.”
“Two years after his release, he is at risk from real criminals, with little protection. This is the hypocrisy of China’s criminal justice system,” Tenzin Choekyi, a senior researcher at Tibet Watch, the research wing of Free Tibet has said.
Tashi Wangchuk was arrested by the Yushu police on 27 Jan 2016, two months after the publication of his video and the first article on The New York Times about his language rights campaign for the Tibetan people, wherein he called for Tibetan language education to be taught in schools across Tibet. The Chinese authorities then held him in pre-trial detention for nearly two years without any access to his family until he was sentenced to five years in prison on charges of ‘inciting separatism’ by a Chinese court after a one-day trial on 22 May 2018.
Activists and rights groups alike have maintained that Tashi Wangchuk’s only crime was that he sought to promote Tibetan language education, which is guaranteed under Chinese and international law and to use Chinese law to pressure officials to faithfully implement Tibetan language rights in a New York Times documentary.