[lg policy] Tibetan language activist has been sentenced to five years’ imprisonment by a Chinese court for “inciting separatism.”

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Tue May 22 16:49:56 EDT 2018


Tibetan language activist has been sentenced to five years’ imprisonment by
a Chinese court for “inciting separatism.”

Tashi Wangchuk, 32, had been campaigning for the rights of ethnic Tibetans
to learn their own language and culture, arguing the Tibetan language was
being sidelined by Mandarin in the local education system.

While Tibetan is still taught, Mandarin has taken over from the native
tongue as the primary language of instruction in schools in many
Tibetan-speaking areas.

“The sentencing was harsh,” his lawyer Liang Xiaojun told Inkstone, adding
that his client planned to file an appeal.
It’s said that if one nation wants to eliminate another nation, first they
need to eliminate their spoken and written language
-
Tashi Wangchuk, Tibetan langauge activist
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eliminate another nation, first they need to eliminate their spoken and
written language", Tashi Wangchuk, Tibetan langauge
activist%0D%0Ahttps%3A%2F%2Finks.tn%2Fy0pvs>

The activist has been detained since January 2016, weeks after an interview
with the New York Times.

“In politics, it’s said that if one nation wants to eliminate another
nation, first they need to eliminate their spoken and written language,”
Tashi said in the video, calling China's current Tibet policy “systematic
slaughter of our culture.”
[image: Children with a Tibetan-language textbook.]
Children with a Tibetan-language textbook. Photo: Xinhua/Liu Hongming

The video shows how Tashi tried to hire lawyers for a lawsuit against the
language policy in Tibet, and to get state broadcaster CCTV to report on it.

The Tibetan activist also discussed issues like self-immolation by Tibetans
and mass surveillance.

According to articles published by the New York Times, Tashi said he did
not support Tibetan independence or separatism and believed the Chinese
constitution protected the rights of ethnic minorities.

Human rights groups called for the release of the activist, who worked as a
shop owner before his arrest.
[image: Students study at Lhasa Middle School in the capital of the Tibet
Autonomous Region.]
Students study at Lhasa Middle School in the capital of the Tibet
Autonomous Region. Photo: Xinhua/Liu Kun

“He is being cruelly punished for peacefully drawing attention to the
systematic erosion of Tibetan culture. To brand peaceful activism for
Tibetan language as ‘inciting separatism’ is beyond absurd,” said Joshua
Rosenzweig, East Asia research director at Amnesty International.

Tibetan-medium education in public schools in the Tibetan-majority areas of
Qinghai and Gansu provinces, both in China’s northwestern region, ended in
2012, according to Human Rights Watch.

The Han ethnic group makes up more than 90% of China's population. Beijing
has been criticized for its heavy-


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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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