Six UN human rights experts have called for the immediate release of Tibetan language advocate Tashi Wangchuk. In a statement released on 21 February 2016, the experts “expressed serious concern over the ruling by a Chinese court to uphold charges of ‘incitement to separatism’ brought against a human rights activist who appeared in a documentary calling for linguistic and cultural rights in Tibet.” The experts from various fields of human rights expertise said “all of the charges levelled against Tashi Wangchuk (…) should be dropped”. In unusual strong language, the experts “condemn the continued detention of Mr. Wangchuk and the criminalization of his freedom of expression as well as his right to stand and speak up for what he perceives as human rights violations in his region and country”.
The International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) welcomes the strong statement by the UN experts. Matteo Mecacci, ICT’s President, said, “Tashi Wangchuk has done nothing more than defending rights which are protected by the Chinese constitution and international law; if he is convicted, this would be in blatant contravention of his right to freedom of opinion and expression”.
Recently, parliamentarians from France, Germany, Australia and Latvia, as well as the European parliament have also publicly called for Tashi Wangchuk’s immediate release.
Tashi Wangchuk was arrested on January 27, 2016, after he had appeared on a video report by the New York Times, which featured his advocacy for Tibetan language rights. He has since been held in detention. On January 4, 2018, the Yushu Intermediate Court upheld the charges of “incitement to separatism” against Mr. Wangchuk, under article 103 section 2 of the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China, which may lead to a prison sentence of more than five years. It is feared that he may receive a prison sentence to up to 15 years.