[lg policy] Free Tibetan activist Tashi Wangchuk

Brookes, Tim brookes at champlain.edu
Mon Jan 15 10:23:24 EST 2018

Thanks, Hal, for sending this out. Outrageous, but also timely, in that I'm
giving a talk in a couple of hours at Champlain College (as part of the
college's Dr Martin Luther King Day special activities) on the relationship
between language and power, and I'll include mention of this....

On Mon, Jan 15, 2018 at 10:00 AM, Harold Schiffman <haroldfs at gmail.com>

> Free Tibetan activist Tashi Wangchuk
> January 13, 2018 11:28 pm
> *Calling for the right to use Tibetan language in schools is not a crime*
> Adam N. Lee, chinaworker.info
> A nine-minute video made by the New York Times may cost Tibetan language
> rights activist Tashi Wangchuk fifteen years in prison. He is the latest
> victim in an unprecedented crackdown
> <http://chinaworker.info/en/2017/11/18/16310/>in which hundreds of
> dissidents and rights advocates have been arrested, abducted, disappeared,
> tortured, forced to appear in televised ‘confessions’ and in many cases
> served with harsh prison sentences as a deterrent to others who would
> challenge Beijing’s policies.
> 32-year-old Tashi, a shopkeeper from the Tibetan prefecture of Yushu in
> Qinghai province, was arrested two months after featuring in the Times’
> video documentary. He was held for two years in secret detention and then
> tried on 4 January this year for “inciting separatism”. The video film (see
> below) was played at the four-hour trial and according to Tashi Wangchuk’s
> defence counsel was the main “evidence” against him. The court will
> pronounce sentence at a later date but it is feared he could be handed a
> fifteen-year prison sentence.
> China’s courts are under tight regime control and have a 99 percent
> conviction rate
> <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/12193202/Chinese-courts-convict-more-than-99.9-per-cent-of-defendants.html>,
> 100 percent in the case of political trials like this one. International
> observers have condemned the detention and trial of Tashi Wangchuk, with Amnesty
> International calling it a “sham”
> <https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/01/china-sham-trial-against-tibetan-activist/>
> based on “blatantly trumped-up charges”.
> The case also highlights the worsening oppression of ethnic minority
> groups in China. Tibetans, Uighur Muslims and other minorities
> including Kazakhs
> <https://thediplomat.com/2017/11/in-xinjiang-ethnic-kazakhs-and-kyrgyz-face-increased-pressure/>who
> mostly also live in Xinjiang and are now under increasingly ferocious
> repression, face discrimination, loss of rights, repression and economic
> hardship. This fate is also being extended to “privileged” and nominally “autonomous”
> Hong Kong <https://stophkrepression.net/> under current regime policies.
> Since mass protests erupted in Tibet in 2008, a state crackdown in the
> name of fighting “separatism” and “terrorism” has escalated to
> unprecedented levels. In his short video interview, Tashi Wangchuk
> describes the life of ordinary Tibetans as “full of pressure and fear”.
> Some facts illustrate the anguish of the Tibetan people under China’s
> ultra-repressive policies:
>    - There have been 140 self-immolations since 2009 – desperate protests
>    against repression.
>    - There are more than 1,800 Tibetan political prisoners – many are in
>    prison for writing or speaking out.
> *New York Times video documentary, “A Tibetan’s Journey for Justice”:*
> *Not a revolutionary*
> Tashi is clearly not a revolutionary nor an advocate of Tibetan
> independence. New York Times reporter Johan M. Kessel
> <https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/10/insider/tashi-wangchuk-documentary-china.html>,
> who made the film of Tashi, says that during their meeting the Tibetan
> specifically told him he did not support independence. Like many others who
> have been targets of the crackdown of recent years they have simply called
> for reform within the system, rather than advocating more radical political
> change or the downfall of the dictatorship.
> “All Tashi Wangchuk has done is peacefully advocate for constitutionally
> guaranteed rights,” said Human Rights Watch China director Sophie
> Richardson. “If Chinese authorities consider that ‘inciting separatism,’
> it’s hard to tell what isn’t.”
> Tashi went to Beijing to appeal for the restoration of Tibetan language
> teaching in schools – which, like other minority languages, has effectively
> been eliminated at every level from primary education upwards in favour of
> Mandarin (Putonghua) as the only language of instruction. Tibetan,
> Mongolian and the Turkic Uighur language, for example, can be studied on
> the same basis as English or French, i.e. as “foreign” languages, but they
> are no longer languages of instruction.
> This was not the case in the past. Even during the Mao years – universally
> referred to as a ‘dark age’ of repression – such a rigid and heavy-handed
> language policy was not applied. And certainly the current policies of the
> Chinese regime have nothing in common with genuine Marxism or socialism –
> take for example the extremely sensitive and democratic approach taken by
> Lenin, the leader of the Russian Revolution, towards the language question:
> *“That is why Russian Marxists say that there must be no compulsory
> official language, that the population must be provided with schools where
> teaching will be carried on in all the local languages, that a fundamental
> law must be introduced in the constitution declaring invalid all privileges
> of any one nation and all violations of the rights of national minorities.”
> [Lenin, Is a Compulsory Official Language Needed? January 1914]*
> The regime’s claim that a single official language, i.e. Mandarin, is
> needed to facilitate economic development and integration is a false and
> blinkered standpoint. It reflects a crude police mentality that coercion is
> the answer to every problem. Many economically developed societies operate
> multi-lingual education systems and business environments – from
> Switzerland to Singapore. But Beijing’s language policies have been adapted
> to its nationalistic agenda for maintaining political control by the centre.
> *Read more: Lenin against a compulsory official language ➵*
> <https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1914/jan/18.htm>
> *Fracturing of China*
> In the past decade, as Beijing’s fears of mass unrest and the fracturing
> of China have risen, extensive repressive measures have been implemented
> especially in Tibetan regions and in Muslim-majority Xinjiang.
> <http://chinaworker.info/en/2017/05/03/14761/> Tens of thousands of
> auxiliary police have been recruited, religious establishments have been
> militarised, and an unprecedented ‘deep state’ has been assembled with the
> latest mass surveillance technology. These methods are being tested in
> minority regions to be used against the Han Chinese majority – striking
> workers or anti-pollution protesters – in the future.
> The current language policies are in breach of China’s constitution which
> includes guarantees of the freedom of ethnic nationalities to use their own
> spoken and written language. These clauses, like much else in the
> constitution (which also ‘guarantees’ democratic rights and freedom of
> speech) are meaningless. This is central to the alleged ‘crime’ of Tashi
> Wangchuk who, as shown in the Times’ documentary, went to Beijing to
> petition the authorities to uphold the Tibetan people’s constitutional
> language rights.
> His trial for “inciting separatism” therefore sends an unmistakeable
> message and perhaps not the one the Chinese regime intends. They want to
> project strength, their resolve to crush opposition. But another message,
> intended or not, is that it is impossible to pursue ‘reform’ within China’s
> authoritarian system. If you call for even very limited reforms, especially
> if you do this publicly or embarrass the dictatorship by proffering its own
> constitution, you will be punished with the same malice as if you advocated
> revolution. In this way, the dictatorship is leaving only one road open to
> those who want and need change – the road of revolution.
> Rather than create ‘stability’, the unprecedented crackdown in China’s
> ethnic minority regions is breeding an explosive mix of disillusionment,
> fear and anger, and makes the Chinese regime the most powerful promoter of
> demands for national independence, as it has become in Hong Kong. With such
> policies, China’s rule is not strengthened but actually undermined in the
> longer term. Tashi Wangchuk’s futile mission to Beijing and the regime’s
> cold-blooded reaction have made him a hero among Tibetan youth. But will
> the younger generation share his belief that it is possible to make Beijing
> ‘listen’ to reasonable arguments?
> Only by building working class organisations that unite the oppressed of
> all ethnicities in common struggle, is it possible to defeat repression and
> the arbitrary rule of a dictatorial regime. This is part of a global
> struggle against grotesque inequality, national oppression, environmental
> destruction, war and foreign occupation. These horrors flow from the nature
> of global capitalism which is a major supporting pillar of the current
> ‘Communist’ regime in China.
> Read more: Tibetans in revolt – What is the way forward? ➵
> <http://chinaworker.info/en/2013/03/13/514/>
> Read more: Tibet and the National Question ➵
> <http://chinaworker.info/en/2008/04/21/3265/>
> Tags: Independence <http://chinaworker.info/en/tag/independence/> Language
> Rights <http://chinaworker.info/en/tag/language-rights/> National Question
> <http://chinaworker.info/en/tag/national-question/> New York Times
> <http://chinaworker.info/en/tag/new-york-times/> Repression
> <http://chinaworker.info/en/tag/repression/> Tashi Wangchuk
> <http://chinaworker.info/en/tag/tashi-wangchuk/> Tibet
> <http://chinaworker.info/en/tag/tibet/> Xinjiang
> <http://chinaworker.info/en/tag/xinjiang/>
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> --
> =+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+
>  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
> http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/
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