Geneva: In a press statement published on official website of Office of High Commissioner For Human Rights, a group of UN human rights experts have expressed themselves to be ‘gravely concerned’ and condemned China’s sentencing of Tibetan linguistic rights’ advocate, Tashi Wangchuk, for a five-year imprisonment,
Expressing their sadness over the news of Tashi Wangchuk’s sentence, despite repeated calls to China to release him, the experts said “It is deeply concerning that this sentencing came after we issued two joint communications calling for his immediate release and for all of the charges to be dropped”.
“Governments should under no circumstances undermine or repress legitimate human rights advocacy and action, such as in this case, using national security, public order or anti-terrorism discourses”, the experts added.
The UN mandate holders also exhorted China to provide information about China’s efforts to “promote and protect the linguistic and cultural rights of the Tibetan minority”. The experts also expressed their disappointment about China’s failure to provide “satisfactory response” to the information asked by the experts.
“Once again, we strongly urge the Chinese authorities to comply with their international human rights commitments, to grant Mr. Wangchuk immediate release and accord him an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations.” the statements read.
Tashi Wangchuk, 32, a Tibetan shopkeeper from Kyekundo county in Kham Yulshul (Chinese: Yushu Prefecture) was detained on 27 January, 2016 for publicly advocating Tibetan language education in schools in Tibetan populated areas. Two months before his detention, Tashi Wangchuk appeared in a New York Times documentary in which he can be seen advocating for the rights of Tibetans to learn and study in their mother tongue.
On 22 May this year, China pronounced its verdict on Tashi Wangchuk’s case and sentenced him to five years for “inciting separatism”. Tashi Wangchuk was tried earlier this year on January 4 at Yushu Intermediate People’s Court but the court adjourned without a verdict at that time.
In December 2017, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued an Opinion which found that Tashi Wangchuk’s detention was arbitrary and in contravention of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
List of UN Mandate holders who have expressed their concern on Tashi Wangchuk’s case:
Ms. E. Tendayi Achiume, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; Ms. Karima Bennoune, Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights; Mr. Fernand de Varennes, Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Mr. José Antonio Guevara Bermúdez, Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Mr. Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Mr. David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression
Report filed by Office of Tibet, Geneva