DHARAMSALA, Feb 21: The defence lawyer of incarcerated Tibetan language advocate, Tashi Wangchuk has been declined a visit to see his client by the Chinese authorities.
Lin Qilei, the defence lawyer of Tashi Wangchuk has been stopped from visiting his client by Chinese authorities amid a “tense” situation as the political prisoner approaches one year behind bars, the London-based advocacy group Free Tibet reported citing Lin Qilei.
The activist’s family and Qilei made a request on January 15 to visit him, but officials at the prison denied it sighting the political and sensitive nature of the case and were told a higher authority was needed, the report stated.
The Tibetan language advocate was sentenced to five years in prison on charges of ‘inciting separatism’ by a Chinese court on May 22, last year.
Activists and rights groups alike has maintained that Tashi Wangchuk is being held under trumped-up charges and that his only crime was that he sought to promote Tibetan language education, which is guaranteed under the Chinese and international law and to use Chinese law to pressure officials to faithfully implement Tibetan language rights in a New York Times documentary.
China has a conviction rate of 99.9% and the accused in such cases are more often than not convicted and sentenced to prison by the Communist regime.
The 34-year-old Tibetan Language advocate has pleaded not guilty to the charges levied against him, has told his lawyers prior to his sentencing that he will appeal if he is found guilty by the court.
Like Tashi, Qilei also maintains his client’s innocence. “I requested that he must be released. Of course, he must be released because he’s not guilty,” he said in the report.
Tashi Wangchuk’s defence lawyer has further said in the report that his client’s sentencing is a shortcoming of the legal system in China which he described as not independent and politically driven.
“They want to make an example of him. China is very angry about his case. Authorities are advising lawyers in China not to defend such cases and the lawyers’ association in Beijing has also urged lawyers to stay away from representing clients in similar cases,” Qilei added.
The Chinese human right lawyer has further stated that strict surveillance and control has crippled the human rights situation in China and that it is deteriorating while describing the human rights situation for Tibetans and Uyghurs as “extremely poor.”
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, the Chinese authorities held him in pre-trial detention for nearly two years without any access to his family.