DHARAMSALA, Jan 27: Two major Tibetan NGOs merged together and performed a shadow play today to mark the 3rd anniversary of Tashi Wangchuk’s imprisonment by the Chinese authorities.
Gu-Chu-Sum Movement Association of Tibet and Student’s for a Free Tibet- India today performed a ten-minute Shadow Play at TCV Day School in Mcleaod Ganj, Dharamsala which chronicles around the events that led to the Tibetan language advocate, Tashi Wangchuk’s five years in sentence on charges of ‘inciting separatism’ by a Chinese court on May 22, 2018.
“We demand his immediate release from the Chinese prison and we hope to reach to wider masses through the Shadow play to spread awareness about his case which is an example of the severity of the persecution Tibetans face for simply calling for their rights, rights that are perceived as a threat by the Chinese government despite the fact that they are protected by international human rights laws and under the Chinese constitution,” Tenzin Tselha, SFT National Director said.
A Tibetan shopkeeper and advocate for greater Tibetan language education in schools in Tibet, Tashi Wangchuk 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, wherein he called for Tibetan language education to be taught in schools across Tibet. After his arrest, authorities held him in pre-trial detention for nearly two years without any access to his family.
“Tashi Wangchuk is being held under trumped up charges, he risks being tortured and other ill- treatments that Tibetan political prisoners are subjected to. His only crime was that he sought to promote Tibetan language education, which is guaranteed by both the Chinese and international laws as Chinese (mandarin) has become the sole language of instruction in Tibetan schools,” said Dawa Tashi, Vice President of Gu-Chu-Sum.
Human rights groups have long criticised the Chinese government for using the broad charges of “separatism” and “subversion” to target ethnic minorities such as Tibetans and Uyghurs.
To make matters worse, China has a 99.9 % conviction rate.
A Chinese judge at the Intermediate Court in Jyekundo Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture handed Tashi Wangchuk a five-year prison sentence on May 22, earlier this year on charges of ‘inciting separatism’ on May 22 last year.
As it stands now, Tashi is due for release in early 2021 as his prison term will start from May 2016, the time of his arrest.