By Lobsang Tenchoe
DHARAMSALA, Dec 4: Tibetan language advocate, Tashi Wangchuk’s trial ended without a verdict earlier today in Jyekundo Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.
Tashi Wangchuk, who advocates for broader Tibetan language education, stood trial today at an Intermediate Court in Jyekundo for ‘inciting separatism’, a charge that could result in a sentence of up to 15 years in prison.
The Tibetan language advocate has pleaded not guilty. His 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.
A judge at the Intermediate Court in Jyekundo heard oral arguments for four hours and will issue a verdict at an unspecified date, The Associated Press reported citing the Tibetan language advocate’s lawyer Liang Xiaojun.
“The prosecutors presented evidence focused on a nine-minute video the Times made in 2015 that told of how Tashi tried to sue local officials for denying Tibetans language and culture education,” Liang said in the reports.
The 32-yr-old Tibetan language advocate was arrested by the Yushu police on Jan 27, 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, where in he called for Tibetan language education to be taught in schools across Tibet.
The Amnesty International has called the trial a sham and added that it exposes absurd charge against Tibetan activist.
“It is appalling that Tashi Wangchuk could face up to 15 years’ imprisonment simply for expressing his views in media interviews. These are blatantly trumped up charges and he should be immediately and unconditionally released,” said Roseann Rife, Amnesty International’s East Asia Research Director.
Tashi Wangchuk was held in pre-trial detention by the Chinese authorities for nearly two years without any access to his family, now awaits the court’s verdict.