30-year-old Tashi Wangchuk is in jail in Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Tibet. His arrest in January 2016 followed his peaceful campaign to encourage China's authorities to ensure that the Tibetan language is taught throughout Tibet. He has not committed any crime and China’s own constitution guarantees that “ethnic minorities” such as Tibetans have the right to use and develop their own languages. While in prison, he is at risk of torture and if convicted, may face a sentence of up to 15 years.
We, the undersigned, call on you to unconditionally release Tashi Wangchuk [[Ch: Zhaxi Wangchu], who was arrested on 27 January 2016 and charged with separatism on 4 March. His last known location was Yushu detention centre.
Tashi Wangchuk was arrested apparently because of his peaceful attempts to improve Tibetan language education, which was featured in a New York Times article and video last November. He appealed for change through official channels and did not advocate Tibetan independence. In his New York Times interview, he made clear that he was solely concerned with preserving Tibet’s culture and encouraged Chinese officials to aid Tibetans in doing so. He also offered praise to President Xi Jinping.
Tashi Wangchuk’s campaign was to ensure proper implementation of the guarantees offered in Article 4 of the Chinese Constitution which states that "[t]he people of all nationalities have the freedom to use and develop their own spoken and written languages, and to preserve or reform their own ways and customs." Article 41 states that "citizens of the People's Republic of China have the right to criticize and make suggestions to any state organ or functionary" and that "no one may suppress such complaints, charges and exposures, or retaliate against the citizens making them".
The New York Times articles have ensured that Tashi Wangchuk's unjust treatment is receiving worldwide attention. In accordance with his universal human right to free expression and his rights under the Chinese constitution, we urge you to drop all charges against Tashi Wangchuk and to immediately and unconditionally release him.