Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (21 March) on Tibetan author Shokjang’s release from prison:
After spending three years in prison for allegedly inciting separatism, Tibetan author Shokjang was finally released this week. I am happy about that. The Chinese Government should now grant him his political rights in full and refrain from imposing any restrictions on his freedom of movement and contact with third parties.
Shokjang has campaigned for many years for civil rights, particularly freedom of opinion and religion in the Tibetan territories. However, the human rights situation has continued to deteriorate in recent years. I thus call on the Chinese Government to respect the Tibetan population’s constitutional rights and freedoms.
I am also concerned about other Tibetan human rights defenders who are still in prison, particularly Tashi Wangchuk, who has been detained for more than two years on charges of inciting separatism. I call on the Chinese Government to release Tashi Wangchuk, who has always campaigned peacefully for human rights in the Tibetan territories.
Author Shokjang (the pseudonym of Drukar Gyal) has been campaigning for civil rights in the Tibetan territories for over ten years. He spent a short time in prison in 2010 for his role in demonstrations and publications in 2008. He was re-arrested on 19 March 2015 and found guilty of inciting separatism and disturbing social stability by a Chinese court on 17 February 2016. The court sentenced him to three years in prison, followed by two years without political rights. He was released on 19 March 2018.
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 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. He was tried on 4 January 2018 for inciting separatism. He pleaded not guilty. No verdict has yet been pronounced.