[lg policy] Tibetan rights group condemns sentencing of language rights crusader

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Fri May 25 10:21:09 EDT 2018

Tibetan rights group condemns sentencing of language rights crusader
Phayul[Thursday, May 24, 2018 19:52]

[image: Photo: NY Times]
Photo: NY Times
DHARAMSHALA, May 24: The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy
(TCHRD), the only rights group run by Tibetans that monitors human rights
situation inside Tibet, has condemned “in strongest terms” the sentencing
of Tibetan language rights activist Tashi Wangchuk by a Chinese court.

“The verdict against Tashi Wangchuk makes a mockery of Chinese Constitution
and Regional National Autonomy Law both of which contain provisions for
Tibetan nationalities to protect and promote their language,” said TCHRD.
The TCHRD said despite provisions for minority languages in Chinese law,
Chinese authorities have accelerated the use of Mandarin Chinese in
government and education sectors of Tibet in recent years. “The gaps
between minority language policy and practice demonstrate that minority
language rights become meaningless when they are seen as detrimental to
‘national stability’ and ‘national unity’.”

The rights group called on the Chinese authorities to release Tashi
Wangchuk and all other Tibetans imprisoned for protecting and promoting
Tibetan language and culture. “China’s assimilationist policy has increased
alienation and sense of exclusion among Tibetans. It has become a major
cause of instability and protests in Tibet. The 2008 and 2009 uprisings in
Tibetan and Uyghur areas, followed by 2010 Tibetan students’ protests and
numerous other protests including self-immolations have called for language
freedom as one of their main demands.”

Chinese authorities have long expanded efforts to ‘unify’ People’s Republic
of China (PRC) with the so-called minority regions by imposing
nationalistic ideas throughout the education system, according to TCHRD.
One method of promoting nationalism, the TCHRD said, is “reflected in the
government’s renewed emphasis on standard Chinese as a common, national
language and its decreasing attention to the development, or sometimes even
the maintenance, of bilingual and other forms of education in minority

The rights group said Beijing has sent a “worrying signal” that it will
continue to implement the counter-productive policy of discrimination and
hostility against all expressions of Tibetan cultural identity. “Equally
concerning is the dominant view among the Chinese leadership that PRC’s
stability and unity can only be achieved through the eventual annihilation
of distinct national and cultural identities of Tibetans and other
so-called minority nationalities.”

Tibetan language right activist Tashi Wangchuk was sentenced to five years’
imprisonment on May 22 by Yushu Intermediate People’s Court, in Jyekundo
County in the Kham region of Tibet. Tashi Wangchuk, a 33 year old Tibetan E
commerce entrepreneur has been in jail for over two years on what Tibetan
exiles call “politically motivated charges” of inciting separatism”
following his pursuit to fight for Tibetan people’s right to Tibetan
language education.

Tashi was arrested on 27 January 2016 after a New York Times news article
and a video report came out, documenting Tashi’s mission to file a formal
complaint against Chinese officials for failing to support Tibetans’ right
to Tibetan language education.

Tashi ran an online business on Alibaba, major Chinese internet e-commerce
site, and featured in a promotional video in 2014 for Alibaba as an example
of entrepreneurial success.

Yushu, called Gyegu in Tibetan, is one of the predominantly Tibetan areas
under Chinese occupation. The government has encouraged increasing use of
Chinese language in schools and official settings across these areas.


 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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