For Immediate Release
January 8, 2018
Protest at New York Chinese Consulate demands Release, Justice for Language Advocate Tashi Wangchuk
New York, NY – Protesters appeared en masse at 11:30 AM today at the Chinese Consulate in New York, demanding that the Chinese government release Tibetan shopkeeper and language advocate Tashi Wangchuk. Wangchuk is currently under trial for ‘inciting separatism’, a trumped-up charge the Chinese government uses frequently against influential Tibetans. At the consulate, supporters of Tashi Wangchuk wore masks of his face with the words ‘I’m innocent #FreeTashiWangchuk’ next to it.
Tashi Wangchuk, a Tibetan shopkeeper from Jyekundo County, Yulshul Prefecture, Kham, eastern Tibet (Chinese: Yushu, Qinghai Province), advocated publicly for greater Tibetan language education in schools in Tibetan populated areas. Chinese has increasingly become the predominant language of instruction in Tibet, often being the exclusive language taught.
Dorjee Tseten, Executive Director of Students for a Free Tibet (SFT), said, “What we’re witnessing today is the true face of China’s colonial ambitions – to wipe out Tibetan culture.” He added, “Tashi Wangchuk, who tried to seek justice under China’s own constitution, is now facing trial for his simple demand that China uphold its own constitution in regards to Tibetan cultural preservation. We stand strongly against this unfair trial and call for his immediate release.”
Mi Ling, Communications Director from Human Rights in China, read from their statement at the protest, stating “[Tashi Wangchuk]’s prosecution adds another glaring example to the Chinese authorities’ misuse of the judicial system as an instrument of oppression. It highlights, again, the Chinese government’s systematic trampling on the fundamental rights—including cultural, religious, and political rights—of the Tibetan people.”
Summer Lopez, Senior Director of the ‘Free Expressions Program’ of Pen America stated at the Consulate, “The right to speak one’s own language is the right to read the poetry of one’s ancestors. It is the right to assert one’s identity, to say “I am.” These are the rights that Chinese authorities are labeling as “separatism.” These are the rights that are on trial with Tashi Wangchuk today.”
The protest was organized jointly by the U.S. Tibet Committee, Regional Tibetan Youth Congress of New York and New Jersey, Regional Chushi Gangdruk Association, and Students for a Free Tibet.