[lg policy] Clermency fromt China would send he right message on advancing Tibetan language

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Thu Feb 8 10:17:08 EST 2018

 the right message on advancing Tibetan language
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 February, 2018, 5:08pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 February, 2018, 10:32pm

[image: Contributor] <http://www.scmp.com/author/contributor>
Contributor <http://www.scmp.com/author/contributor>


In November 2015, Tashi Wangchuk, a young shopkeeper and businessman from
Yushu in Qinghai travelled to Beijing, hoping to bring to the attention of
China’s higher authorities the troubling state of the Tibetan language in
the school curriculum of his home area, a majority Tibetan region.
HK Morning Briefing
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In so doing, he believed himself to be acting in accord with his rights
under China’s constitution, which states that “all nationalities have the
freedom to use and develop their own spoken and written languages.”

However, Tashi Wangchuk was arrested and, after two years in detention, he
was finally tried: on January 4 this year he was indicted with “inciting
separatism,” a charge he rejected. The decision of the court is expected as
we are writing this open letter. If judged guilty, Tashi Wangchuk could be
sentenced to up to 15 years in prison.

China has played an important role in extending the use of Tibetan in
digital media

Ironically, scholars and writers using the Tibetan language are quite
active in China and Tibetan publication there is thriving. In addition,
China has played an important role in extending the use of Tibetan in
digital media.

Nevertheless, implementation of Tibetan language policy on a local level,
whether in education, administration, or public affairs, has been uneven,
which explains the emergence of people active in language issues, like
Tashi Wangchuk.

So far as we can determine, his crime in the eyes of China’s authorities is
less his concern to preserve and develop his mother tongue, than is the
fact that *The* *New York Times* released a nine-minute video showing him
engaged in that endeavour.

We, the undersigned, academic specialists in the field of Tibetan Studies,
call upon the concerned legal and political authorities in China to drop
all charges against Tashi Wangchuk. If his contact with foreign media has
been considered indiscrete, it must be stressed that he nowhere is recorded
as having advocated Tibetan separatism and in fact expressed his intention
to act as a Chinese citizen within the strictures of China’s constitution.

Clemency in his case will send the right message to other Tibetans and to
the world.

*A group of 15 internationally known scholars and professors on Tibet, from
France, the UK, US, Czech Republic, Canada and Australia*
This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition
as: Clemency
from China would send out the right message on advancing Tibetan language


 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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