Dr Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (1 June) on the sentencing of Tibetan human rights defender Tashi Wangchuk:
A few days ago, Tibetan human rights defender Tashi Wangchuk was sentenced in China to five years in prison on charges of inciting separatism. I am most concerned about the sentencing of another Tibetan who has campaigned to preserve Tibet’s cultural identity using peaceful means in line with Chinese law.
I call on the Government of the People’s Republic of China to release Tashi Wangchuk without delay and to respect the cultural and religious rights of the Tibetan people. This also includes not hindering the work of the institutions of Tibetan Buddhism such as the Larung Gar and Yachen Gar teaching institutes and not suppressing the Tibetan language and culture.
Tashi Wangchuk primarily campaigns for the preservation of the Tibetan language and for Tibetans’ cultural rights. He was arrested on 27 January 2016 after unsuccessfully attempting to bring a case against local authorities that had refused to promote the Tibetan language in schools, as guaranteed by the constitution. In an interview with the “New York Times” in late 2015, Tashi Wangchuk had criticised China’s educational policy in Tibet. His trial on charges of inciting separatism took place in Yushu on 4 January 2018. He pleaded not guilty. On 22 May, he was sentenced to five years in prison.