FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 19 January 2022
Jacob Kessler | +1 516-776-6472 | Jacob@studentsforafreetibet.org
TIBETAN ACTIVIST RISKS SECOND ARREST AFTER SERVING A FIVE-YEAR SENTENCE TO CONDEMN CHINESE LANGUAGE POLICIES IN TIBET—SAYS CHINESE GOVERNMENT POLICIES “ENDANGER” TIBETAN LANGUAGE
NEW YORK—35-year-old language rights activist from Yushul, Tibet, Tashi Wanguchk, was taken in for questioning by local Chinese authorities on 17 January 2022 following a Weibo post by Wangchuk regarding the discriminatory language policies implemented in Tibet by the Chinese government. The post, shared by Wangchuk on 3 January 2022, criticized language policies that limit academic exams and government job applications to Chinese language for all Tibetans living in Tibet.
Tashi Wangchuk wrote:
“One of the questions I was asked under interrogation was who had given me the responsibility to advocate for use of the Tibetan language…I think that the officials in Yulshul city and the police bureau are just using their power to stop the public from addressing these problems and advocating for the use of their own language. This is how the Tibetan language has been endangered, and this is how I am raising awareness among government officials of the language rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China…The situation has become so bad that some of them later can’t even read or write in Tibetan.”
On 17 January 2022, Wangchuk was summoned by Chinese authorities and interrogated. Wangchuk believes the interrogation was a targeted intimidation tactic aimed at preventing further advocacy. In 2016, following a well-documented interview Wangchuk gave with the New York Times, Wangchuk was detained for eleven months without any notice given to his family and subsequently sentenced to five years in prison under charges of “inciting separatism.” Wangchuk was released from prison in January 2021 after serving the full sentence. Since his release, Wangchuk has been under constant surveillance and monitoring by the Chinese government. Students for a Free Tibet is gravely concerned about the safety and well-being of Tashi Wangchuk.
“On behalf of Students for a Free Tibet, which represents thousands of Tibetan and allied students from around the world, I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to Tashi Wangchuk for his courage to speak out in defense of the Tibetan language. Condemning China’s language policies in Tibet so soon after being freed from prison is indicative of how dire the situation really is. Due to these discriminatory policies and the fact that 80% of Tibetan children are being sent to colonial boarding schools, Tibetan language is more than endangered—it is under direct assault by the Chinese government. That is why we must do everything in our power to campaign for Wangchuk’s safety and support his advocacy work to demand an end to China’s colonialism and cultural genocide in Tibet.”Pema Doma, Campaigns Director at Students for a Free Tibet