– Tashi Wangchuk is a Tibetan shopkeeper from Kyegundo, an area of Kham, Tibet (CH: Yushu County, Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai)
– After Chinese officials forced local schools to stop offering Tibetan language classes, Tashi attempted to file a lawsuit to press for the provision of more Tibetan education.
– Tashi’s lawful attempt was documented by the New York Times and, following this report, Tashi was detained on 27 January 2016
– Tashi was held in secret for almost two months and tortured by his captors.
– After nearly two years in detention, Tashi Wangchuk was tried in a ‘closed door trial’ for “inciting separatism”, a politically motivated charge, despite his legal, non-political, actions. No verdict was announced. Governments and journalists who attempted to attend the trial were denied entry.
– Over four months later, on 22 May 2018, Tashi Wangchuk was sentenced to five years in prison.
Tashi is one of a number of Tibetans to have been persecuted under Chinese state security laws, which are broad in scope and provide authorities with the powers to clamp down on dissent or behaviour that they deem to be “separatist”, a charge carrying a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
Tashi Wangchuk’s case has aroused the concern of many governments and United Nations experts.
– On Human Rights Day, 10 December 2016, both the US Embassy and EU Delegation in Beijing made statements.
– In February 2017, five United Nations independent experts called for Tashi Wangchuk to be released.
– Government representatives from the UK, Canada, Germany, the European Union and the United States travelled to Yushu in January 2018 to try and observe Tashi’s trial but were shut out.
– In February 2018, six UN experts made a further statement calling for all charges against Tashi Wangchuk to be dropped
– In November 2017, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention adopted an opinion concerning Tashi Wangchuk, urging China “to take the steps necessary to remedy the situation of Mr Wangchuk without delay and bring it into conformity with the relevant international norms, including those set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”.
– Following Tashi Wangchuk’s sentencing in May 2018, a number of governments reiterated their call for his release, including the United States, France, Canada, Germany and the EU, with other governments endorsing the EU’s statement. UN human rights experts also condemned Tashi Wangchuk’s 5-year jail term.