After over two years of arbitrary detention by Chinese authorities for his language advocacy, Tibetan shopkeeper Tashi Wangchuk has received a verdict of five years of imprisonment on trumped-up charges of “inciting separatism.” This kind of heavy-handed response is typical of an authoritarian and insecure government without rule of law. China is fearful of an ordinary person striving to preserve his native language, and it speaks volumes on her global ambitions. Tashi’s campaign for language preservation for Tibet has made him a global icon of culture and language preservation and an inspiration to us all.
By following China’s constitution and documenting the roadblocks he faced in bringing the government to court on language policies, Tashi has placed a magnifying glass on the absence of rule of law in China, and exposed China’s racist policies against Tibetans.
We condemn China’s unjust sentence on Tashi Wangchuk, and call for his immediate and unconditional release. China’s verdict means Tashi will be imprisoned until 2021, but he plans to appeal the sentence. Tashi has not given up hope and neither have we.