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High Profile Tibetan Writer Shokjang Released From Prison After Wrongful Conviction and Three Years in a Chinese Prison

Posted on March 19, 2018

Shokjang greeted by Tibetan writer Theurang upon his release.
Shokjang greeted by Tibetan writer Theurang upon his release.

Immediate Release – 19 March 2018

Contacts:
(English)
Pema Yoko,
Students for a Free Tibet,
US, +1 646 266 0382,
pema@studentsforafreetibet.org

(Tibetan བོད་སྐད་)
Tenzin Jigdal
, International Tibet Network,
India, + 91 988 225 5516,
jigdal@tibetnetwork.org


HIGH PROFILE TIBETAN WRITER SHOKJANG RELEASED FROM PRISON AFTER WRONGFUL CONVICTION AND THREE YEARS IN A CHINESE PRISON

SHOKJANG WILL REMAIN UNDER EXTREME SCRUTINY WITH A FURTHER TWO YEARS ‘DEPRIVATION OF POLITICAL RIGHTS’

TIBET ACTIVISTS EXPRESS CONCERN FOR HIS WELFARE AND CONTINUE TO PRESS FOR HIS FULL FREEDOM

Tibet campaigners received news today of the release of high-profile political prisoner Shokjang (Druklo). [1] In February 2016, Shokjang was wrongfully sentenced to three years in prison on charges  of “inciting separatism” and “disturbing social stability” [2] following his arrest on 19 March 2015, making him due for release today, 19 March 2018.

Shokjang has a history of activism. As a student of Tibetan literature at the Northwest Nationalities University in Lanzhou, Shokjang organised student protests calling for greater freedom for Tibetans during the mass Tibetan uprisings in March 2008. He was later detained and held arbitrarily for a month for his involvement in the 2008 Tibetan Uprisings,  [3] and for publishing a literary magazine that criticized China’s policies. [4]

On 17 February 2015, Shokjang was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment and two years’ deprivation of political rights for “inciting separatism”; Shokjang insisted his innocence throughout. According to the Court, Shokjang committed “crimes” through his writings, including an essay on freedom of religion and a blogpost recounting the events of 16 March 2015 when gun-wielding armed police officers conducted a search at his hotel room. [5]

Shokjang is a highly regarded Tibetan poet, lyricist, short story writer, and essayist. He is the author of four books: The Courageous PathThe Might of the PenFor Liberty, I Have No Regrets, and Rangdrol’s Courage. Numerous governments and human rights organisations, including Amnesty International, Pen America, Human Rights in China, have raised his case since his arrest in 2015. [6]

Shokjang’s arrest and false imprisonment expose a larger systemic issue of repression of all aspects of life in Tibet, including the freedom of expression. It also underlines the increasing insecurity of the occupying regime of China. As a result of these crackdowns and Xi Jinping’s increasingly oppressive regime in Tibet and other Chinese-occupied territories, resistance inside Tibet is stronger today than it ever has been.

Pema Yoko, of Students for a Free Tibet, New York City said:

“Shokjang has shown enormous tenacity and resistance to China’s occupation of Tibet. For more than a decade he has battled to progress the fundamental rights of the Tibetan people with a determination that China clearly finds highly threatening, despite his actions being entirely within the China’s own laws.”

Tenzin Jigdal of the International Tibet Network [7], Dharmasala, India, said:

“Shokjang was wrongfully convicted and denied his freedom for three years for simply exerting his right to express views about the treatment of the Tibetan people.We are glad to hear that he is out of prison, but with two years’ deprivation of his political rights he will still not be a free man. Life in Tibet for former political prisoners is extremely difficult [8], and we call on all governments who have raised Shokjang’s case to press China to immediately lift his deprivation of political rights and refrain from any surveillance, harassment or intimidation.”


Notes:

[1] ‘Shokjang’ is a pen-name used by Druklo. Further details about his life and case can be found here: http://freetibetanheroes.org/portfolio-items/druklo-pen-name-shokjang/

[2] ‘Shokjang sentenced to three years for ‘separatist’ writing and activities’, PEN, 22 February 2016 https://www.englishpen.org/campaigns/chinatibet-shokjang-sentenced-to-three-years-for-separatist-writing-and-activities/

[3] Shokjang was detained along with writer Tashi Rabten, pen-name Theurang (who went on to serve a four year prison sentence). Tashi Rabten subsequently wrote about this detention, translated by High Peaks Pure Earth. http://highpeakspureearth.com/2015/tashi-rabten-remembers-detained-writer-shokjang/

[4] ‘TCHRD condemns arbitrary detention of Tibetan writer Shokjang’, Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democract, 21 April 2015, www.tchrd.org/tchrd-condemns-arbitrary-detention-of-tibetan-writer-shok-jang/

[5] He was also accused of sharing online an extract from the book The Line between Sky and Earth by fellow Tibetan Tragyal, and a news article stating that the Chinese government was willing to talk with His Holiness the Dalai Lama on matters other than Tibetan independence; posting online video footage of Chinese police beating ordinary Chinese people in the street; and storing on his phone six books, including Wang Lixiong’s Sky Burial: The Fate of Tibet. Shokjang wrote a letter of appeal to Qinghai Higher People’s Court, explaining the arbitrary and illegal manner in which he had been detained.

[6] ‘Tibetan writer imprisoned after unfair trial’, Amnesty International, 8 April 2016 https://ua.amnesty.ch/urgent-actions/2015/04/085-15/085-15-1?ua_language=en

[7] International Tibet Network, a global coalition of more than 170 Tibet organisations dedicated to campaigning to end human rights violations in Tibet and restore rights to the Tibetan people. https://TibetNetwork.org/

[8] See the full transcript of former political prisoner Dhondup Wangchen’s testimony to the Congressional Executive Commission on China, 14 February 2018. https://www.savetibet.org/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/