Tashi Wangchuk released from prison after serving 5-year term

DHARAMSALA, 29 Jan: After completing a five-year sentence on a ‘trumped-up charges ‘of  ‘inciting separatism,’ Tibetan language advocate Tashi Wangchuk has been finally freed by the Chinese authorities.

Tashi Wangchuk’s lawyer Liang Xiaojun confirmed the former’s release in a tweet.

The lawyer stated in the tweet that the Tibetan language advocate was brought back to Yushu by the Chinese authorities from Trindu and that “He’s now in his older sister’s home.”

However, not much is know about Wangchuk’s situation at this point. His lawyer, who is yet to meet with or establish direct contact with him says in the tweet that he’s been told by his client’s  “family members that his health is ok.”

“Since I could neither get his picture nor directly contact his family in Yushu, I’m not certain if he’s fully free.”

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 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.

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.

The joy for Tibetans and global Tibet activists who have long expressed concerns over Tashi Wangchuk’s safety and wellbeing while in Chinese after his release was short-lived as they stated that “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.”

Campaigners-International Tibet Network, Free Tibet and Students for a Free Tibet- have expressed great concern over Wangchuk’s safety and the five years deprivation of political rights that begins now in their joint statement.

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