Tag Archives | political prisoners

Tibetan language rights advocate Tashi Wangchuk sentenced to five years in prison

May 22, 2018

Tibetan language rights advocate Tashi Wangchuk was sentenced to five years in prison today, accused of ‘separatism’ after appearing in a New York Times video speaking of the importance of protecting Tibetans’ ‘mother tongue’.

The verdict, handed down by a court in Yushu, Qinghai, today (May 22) signals China’s harsh and extreme approach to Tibetan culture and the criminalization of moderate, peaceful efforts within Chinese law to protect the use of Tibetan language.

Matteo Mecacci, President of the International Campaign for Tibet, said: “This could not be a clearer and more absurd indication of the extremist position of the current Chinese leadership, in which Tashi Wangchuk was condemned ultimately for seeking to speak his own language, and expressing his concern about a future when Tibetan children might not be able to do so. In this case, minority rights outlined in China’s Constitution were on trial, and the outcome reflects the emptiness of China’s claims to protect Tibetan language and culture.”

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Tibetan prisoner released after more than a decade in prison following 2008 protests

May 18, 2018

A Tibetan who participated in the March 2008 protests in Lhasa has returned home two months after the end of a decade-long prison sentence.

Dashar, from Sershul in Kardze (Chinese: Ganzi), the Tibetan area of Kham, was imprisoned in Lhasa charged with involvement in protests on March 10, 2008, beginning a wave of demonstrations that swept across Tibet prior to the Beijing Olympics that summer.

He was due for release on March 15 but was not released until this week. Dashar’s daughter, who lives in exile, confirmed his release and his welcome home by Tibetans with ceremonial scarves. Details about his state of health are also not known; most released prisoners need thorough checkups and often many months of medical care.

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Panchen Lama

United States government commemorates birthday of the Panchen Lama

April 27, 2018

In a statement linked to the 11th Panchen Lama’s 29th birthday, State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert delivered a statement calling on Chinese authorities to release him. The Panchen Lama has not been seen in public since he was taken away by Chinese authorities in 1995 at age six, making him the world’s youngest political prisoner. Earlier this week United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback reaffirmed the commitment of the United States to call on the Chinese government to release the Panchen Lama and provide the truth on his wellbeing and whereabouts, as well as ensuring the respect of religious freedom for the Tibetan people.

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ICT meets US Ambassador for International Religious Freedom to reiterate call for release of Panchen Lama disappeared since 1995

April 25, 2018

April 25, 2018 marks the 29th birthday of the 11th Panchen Lama, who has not been seen in public since he was taken away by Chinese authorities in 1995 at age 6.

In a meeting with United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, ICT President Matteo Mecacci discussed the important role the United States government can play in securing the Panchen Lama’s release. Ambassador Brownback reaffirmed the commitment of the United States to call on the Chinese government to release the Panchen Lama and provide the truth on his wellbeing and whereabouts, as well as ensuring the respect of religious freedom for the Tibetan people.

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Tibetan writer Shokjang released upon completion of prison sentence

March 20, 2018

Shokjang, a popular Tibetan intellectual, blogger, and writer, has been released after spending three years in prison linked to his writings. According to Tibetan sources, upon the expiry of his sentence on March 19 (2018), he was returned to his hometown of Gangya village in Sangchu country (Chinese: Xiahe) in the Amdo region of Tibet (currently administered by Gansu province). The Tibetan language service of Radio Free Asia quoted a Tibetan source saying that Tibetans “from many different areas” came to welcome him home (RFA, March 19, 2018).

Shokjang, also known as Druklo, was originally detained by police in Rebkong (Chinese: Tongren), Qinghai, on March 19, 2015, and sentenced to three years in prison. Known for his reflective and thought-provoking articles on issues of ethnic policy in the People’s Republic of China, Shokjang wrote an eloquent letter from detention appealing against his prison sentence:

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UN Rights Council Urged to Press China to Drop Charges against Tibetan language rights advocate Tashi Wangchuk

March 1, 2018

In a statement delivered on behalf of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights at the 37th Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 1, 2018, ICT’s Kai Mueller drew attention to the case of Tibetan language rights advocate Tashi Wangchuk as a striking example for the repression against Tibetan Human Rights Defenders.

Speaking under Agenda Item 3 “Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development”, he welcomed the strong joint communication just issued by five UN Special Rapporteurs on the case of Tashi Wangchuk , as well as similar statements by a number of governments and parliaments calling for his release. He urged the Human Rights Council to join these calls and press China to drop all charges against Tashi Wangchuk and to release him immediately and unconditionally”.

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Amnesty International Says Tibetans continued to face discrimination and restrictions in 2017

February 22, 2018

A new Amnesty International Report says Tibetans continued to face discrimination and restrictions on their rights to freedom of religion and belief, of opinion and expression, of peaceful assembly and of association.

The Amnesty International Report 2017/18, released on February 22, 2018, documents the state of the world’s human rights in 159 countries and territories during 2017. The report said, “Tashi Wangchuk, a Tibetan education advocate, remained in detention awaiting trial at the end of the year, without access to his family.”

The report said that the Chinese Government “continued to draft and enact new laws under the guise of “national security” that presented serious threats to human rights.” It continued, “Activists and human rights defenders were detained, prosecuted and sentenced on the basis of vague and overbroad charges such as “subverting state power” and “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”. Controls on the internet were strengthened. Repression of religious activities outside state-sanctioned churches increased.”

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ICT Welcomes UN experts call for immediate release of Tibetan language advocate Tashi Wangchuk

February 21, 2018

Six UN human rights experts have called for the immediate release of Tibetan language advocate Tashi Wangchuk. In a statement released today, the experts “expressed serious concern over the ruling by a Chinese court to uphold charges of ‘incitement to separatism’ brought against a human rights activist who appeared in a documentary calling for linguistic and cultural rights in Tibet.” The experts from various fields of human rights expertise said “all of the charges levelled against Tashi Wangchuk (…) should be dropped”. In unusual strong language, the experts “condemn the continued detention of Mr. Wangchuk and the criminalization of his freedom of expression as well as his right to stand and speak up for what he perceives as human rights violations in his region and country”.

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US Members of Congress Introduce Resolutions to Commemorate Tibet’s 1959 Uprising as “Tibetan Rights Day”

February 15, 2018

Today, Senators Leahy (D), Feinstein (D), and Cruz (R) and Representatives McGovern (D) and Hultgren (R), introduced companion resolutions to commemorate the 1959 Tibetan Uprising as “Tibetan Rights Day” on March 10, and to support the human rights and religious freedom of the Tibetan people in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

The resolutions recall that on March 10, 1959 the people of Lhasa rose to protect the residence of the Dalai Lama, fearing for his life, and that an estimated 87,000 were later killed during the ensuing violent crackdown orchestrated by the Chinese Communist Party. Furthermore, the resolutions recalls that March 10, 2018 is also the tenth anniversary of the 2008 protests that started in Lhasa and then spread across the Tibetan plateau, which were brutally suppressed by Chinese authorities. At least 152 Tibetans have self-immolated inside the PRC in protest against Chinese rule since then.

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Testimony of Dhondup Wangchen at the Hearing by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China on “Tibet From All Angles: Protecting Human Rights, Defending Strategic Access, and Challenging China’s Export of Censorship Globally”

February 14, 2018

Honorable Senator Rubio and Representative Smith,

I am very grateful for this opportunity to testify before the Congressional Executive Commission on China on my experiences in Tibet under the Chinese authorities.

My name is Dhondup Wangchen. I was born on October 17, 1974 to a family of Tibetan farmers in Bayen which is in the province we call Amdo. In today’s administrative divisions, Bayen is in Tsoshar prefecture, Qinghai province, People’s Republic of China.

I arrived in USA on December 25, 2017 and it was the first time in many years that I felt safety and freedom. The reunion with my family in San Francisco was a wonderful moment that I had looked forward to in the past years, with a mixture of anxious joy and the hesitation a man feels who was hindered to be the husband he ought to be for his loving wife; a man who was not given the chance to stand by with fatherly advice to his children in a world full of challenges, and a man denied being the son needed for his aging parents, tormented by the thought that they wouldn’t see each other again in their lifetime.

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Tibetans in Tibet and in exile appeal to Chinese courts over use of Tibetan language, express support for Tashi Wangchuk

February 12, 2018

  • A group of Tibetans has written to the Supreme Court expressing their concern about the failure by regional courts to use the Tibetan language, which they state contravenes the Chinese Constitution. In a rare and bold step, the appeal letter, published on the Tibetan-language website Trimleng, an important forum for discussion particularly on legal and policy issues affecting Tibetans in Tibet, is signed with the names of 117 Tibetans who are both in Tibet and in exile.
  • The appeal is also a carefully-worded expression of support for businessman and shopkeeper Tashi Wangchuk, who was imprisoned in January, 2016, following the release of a New York Times video[1] profiling his efforts to request additional Tibetan language classes at schools in his home area of Yushul (Yushu) in Qinghai.
  • A group of 15 internationally known scholars and professors on Tibet, from France, the UK, US, Czech Republic, Canada and Australia called for clemency for Tashi Wangchuk in a letter published in the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong on February 8 (2018).[2] This follows expressions of concern and support for Tashi Wangchuk from German[3] and Latvian[4] Parliamentarians, and an emergency resolution by the European Parliament.[5]
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Tibetan Activist Dhondup Wangchen to testify before United States Congress, during first visit to Washington, DC

February 9, 2018

Tibetan video activist Dhondup Wangchen is visiting Washington, DC from February 9 to 15, 2018 to testify at a Hearing organized by the Congressional Executive Commission on China and will meet Congressional and Administration officials. The Hearing will take place on Wednesday, February 14 from 10am to 12pm in 301 Russell Senate Office Building. In addition to calling on the Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, he will also meet with Washington based NGOs as well as the Tibetan community.

Detained by Chinese authorities in Tibet in March 2008 for making the documentary film “Leaving Fear Behind” (in which ordinary Tibetans expressed their feelings about their situation in the light of the Beijing Olympics), Dhondup Wangchen was sentenced to six years in prison for “inciting subversion”. His friend and assistant, Tibetan monk Golok Jigme, suffered from detention and torture, too. Dhondup was released at the end of his sentence in 2014, but continued to be deprived of his freedom.

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Release from prison of Tibetan writer monk Gartse Jigme

February 8, 2018

A Tibetan writer and monk, popularly known as Gartse Jigme, has been released on February 4, 2018 after serving just over five years in prison for his books on the situation in Tibet and suffering of the Tibetan people.

Images emerged on social media of Gartse Jigme draped in khatags (Tibetan greeting scarves) by fellow monks after his return home to Tsekhog (Chinese: Zeke) county in Malho (Chinese: Huangnan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture), Qinghai, in the Tibetan area of Amdo. He was said to be frail although in reasonable health.

Gartse Jigme, who was arrested in January 2013 following a raid on his monastic quarters, began his writing career in 1999 after study for a monastic degree. He had been under constant surveillance and detained a number of occasions since the publication of his second book in 2008, called ‘Courage of the Tibetan King” (‘Tsanpoe Nyingtop’ བཙན་པོའི་སྙིང་སྟོབས), a collection of essays in the Tibetan language about the political situation in Tibet since the March, 1959 Uprising and the protests that swept across Tibet in 2008. In one essay, translated into English by ICT, Gartse Jigme, who is in his early 40s, wrote: “When I think about these things, it seems to me that the political protests in many places in central Tibet, Kham and Amdo this year [2008] were not organized by the Dalai Lama but were the inevitable expression of the pain stored up for so long in the minds of Tibetans young and old.”

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Tibetan who survived more than 20 years imprisonment disappears after bold protest for peace

February 8, 2018

A Tibetan, who is a former prisoner who continued to protest while in prison despite being subjected to the most severe torture, has been detained again after apparently carrying out a solo demonstration outside the Potala Palace in Lhasa on January 28, 2018.

According to exile sources, Lodoe Gyatso, who has served over 20 years in prison and had a death sentence commuted, is again in detention after he released a video announcing his intention to carry out a peaceful protest. A video message by Lodoe Gyatso was posted by Voice of America Tibetan service showing Lodoe Gyatso (also known as Sogkar Lodoe based on his home county of Sog) dressed in pristine white Tibetan garment speaking to camera.[1]

Lodoe announces in the video (an English translation of the message is included at the end of this report) his plan of staging a protest calling for world peace, describing his action as part of a long campaign of non-violent Tibetan protest. A Tibetan source told Radio Free Asia that Lodoe Gyatso is now being held in custody in his home county of Sog (Chinese: Suo) in Nagchu (Naqu) prefecture in the Tibet Autonomous Region.

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Latvian Parliamentarians Call for Fair and Transparent Judgement Process for Tibetan Language Advocate Tashi Wangchuk

February 6, 2018

On January 25th, Members of the Latvian Parliaments, including members of the Latvian Parliamentary Support Group for Tibet, adopted a statement on the case of Tibetan language advocate Tashi Wangchuk.

The signatories, twenty members of the Saeima (the Latvian Parliament) – out of a total of 100 parliamentarians – call for a “fair and transparent trial of Tashi Wangchuk” and “urges the People’s Republic of China to implement a judgement process that is constant with international legal standards, with the presence of observers at his trial”.

The statement follows a number of resolutions and statements calling for a fair trial for Tashi Wangchuk and/or his release –
including a resolution of the European Parliament and statements by French and German parliamentarians, adding to the growing international pressure in the case of the young human rights defender, who has been detained by the Chinese authorities since January 2016 and is still waiting for the verdict of his trial held on 4 January.

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German MPs call for release of Tibetan language advocate Tashi Wangchuk

January 29, 2018

Two members of the German Parliament (The Bundestag), have called for the release of detained Tibetan language advocate Tashi Wangchuk, who currently awaits the outcome of his trial in Yulshul (Chinese: Yushu) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (the Tibetan area of Kham in Qinghai Province).

The two parliamentarians, Claudia Roth and Maria Klein-Schmeink (both members of the Green Party group in the Bundestag) have sent an open letter to the Chinese ambassador to Germany, Shi Mingde, on January 26, 2018. In it, they urged him “to take effective measures to ensure Tashi Wangchuk’s freedom of speech as guaranteed by the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.” The letter goes on to “demand Tashi Wangchuk’s immediate release and the termination of proceedings as long as there is no legally valid evidence to substantiate the accusations against Tashi Wangchuk.”

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French Senators Call for Fair and Transparent Judgement Process for Tibetan Language Advocate Tashi Wangchuk

January 23, 2018

Fourteen members of the French Senate have issued a statement calling on the Chinese Government to observe international legal standards and provide Tibetan language advocate Tashi Wangchuk with a fair and transparent judgement process. They asked that “Tashi Wangchuk enjoy access to a lawyer of his choice and that he be given access to his family on a regular basis.”

Tashi Wangchuk’s trial was held on January 4, 2018. According to his lawyer, Tashi Wangchuk pleaded not guilty, and no verdict has yet been returned. Lawyer Liang Xiaojun also said that a judge heard oral arguments for four hours and will issue a verdict at an unspecified date.

Following is the translation of the statement in French, issued by the International Information Tibet Group of the French Senate:

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European Parliament adopts an urgency resolution calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Tashi Wangchuk and Tibetan monk Choekyi

January 18, 2018

Brussels – The European Parliament adopted today a new urgency resolution on China, expressing deep concern regarding the cases of two Tibetan political prisoners, the language advocate Tashi Wangchuk and the monk Choekyi.

The resolution which also covers the cases of Chinese human rights activists Wu Gan, Xie Yang, and Lee Ming-cheh “expresses its deep concern at the arrest and continued detention of Tashi Wangchuk, as well as his limited right to counsel, the lack of evidence against him and the irregularities in the criminal investigation; calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Tashi Wangchuk”.

“The International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) welcomes the adoption of this resolution, which underscores once again the critical role of the European Parliament in standing up for victims of human rights abuses in China and Tibet” said ICT’s EU Policy Director Vincent Metten. “We hope that this strong-worded resolution, along with the expressions of concerns by a number of European governments and EU institutions in the last few months, will have an impact on the outcome of Tashi Wangchuk’s trial and on Choekyi’s condition. We also applaud the call for the resumption of the dialogue between the Chinese Government and the Dalai Lama and his representatives, the condemnation of anti-Buddhism campaigns and the adoption of the Counterterrorism Law, which could lead to the penalisation of peaceful expression of Tibetan culture and religion”.

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