Writer Shokjang freed from prison

19th March 2018

Shokjang was one of Tibet's most high-profile political prisoners. He served three years in prison.

The writer and political prisoner Druklo, more commonly known by his pen name Shokjang, has been released from prison. Shokjang completed a three-year sentence today and was transferred to a police station this morning in preparation for his return home this evening.

Shokjang was arrested in Rebkong County, Malho Prefecture, eastern Tibet on 19 March 2015, three days after writing a blog post critical of the deployment of armed Chinese police throughout Tibet.

He was held in detention until his trial in February 2016, where he was found guilty of “inciting separatism” and “disturbing social stability” and sentenced to three years. The court listed his article on 16 March 2015 and another essay, on freedom of religion, as being among his crimes. His family were informed of his trial two days before it took place and after sentencing, Shokjang was given only four minutes with his four year old son before being taken away to begin his prison sentence.            

Writer and activist

Shokjang is highly regarded among Tibetans for his writings, which included essays, poetry and short stories.  He is also the author of four books.

He also has a history of activism, having organised student protests at the Northwest Nationalities University in Lanzhou in March 2008 and written essays in support of freedom for Tibet. He was later detained for one month in 2010 for these activities.

His arrest and imprisonment in 2016 attracted international attention, with Amnesty International and PEN America taking up his case, along with Tibet groups around the world.

While in detention, he wrote a letter in which he protested his innocence against the charges of separatism and reminded the Chinese authorities of his right to freedom of speech, a right protected by the Chinese Constitution. The letter was shared widely among Tibetans in exile.

Waiting for freedom

Shokjang was formally released this morning and transferred to a police station in the township of Ganja in his native Sangchu County. One of Shokjang’s family members has already visited Ganja Township to meet him and give him a change of clothes.

He will be taken home this evening (Chinese time). Tibetan prisoners are commonly returned home when it is dark in order to avoid a big reception by their community. Local sources have nevertheless stated that a number of people have already made plans to greet Shokjang at his home this evening.

Take action

In Tibet the Chinese Communist Party oversees what some have called the world's largest open air prison. The authorities have the power to switch the light on and off, peering into Tibetans' emails one moment and making political prisoners vanish from their families and friends, apparently into darkness, the next. Help us push for Tibet's hidden political prisoners to be found and released.