05/22/2018, 09.23
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Activist sentenced to five years in prison for defending Tibetan language

The sentence pronounced today by a Qinghai Court. Tashi Wangchuk was arrested in 2016 for a New York Times video in which he supported Tibetans right to use their mother tongue. Beijing continues to repress and marginalize the Tibetan culture.

Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Sentenced to five years in prison for "inciting separatism". Tibetan activist Tashi Wangchuk has been punished for defending the right to use his mother tongue, international human rights NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) reports.

The ruling was pronounced today by a court in the prefecture of Yushu, in the province of Qinghai. Tashi Wangchuk, 31, was arrested on January 27, 2016 after appearing in a New York Times video, in which he defended the right of the Tibetans to learn and study their mother tongue. Speaking to the New York newspaper, Tashi explicitly stated that the request did not concern the independence of Tibet.

Since his arrest, several governments, UN human rights experts and international organizations have repeatedly called for his release. " Tashi Wangchuk’s only 'crime' of - says Sophie Richerdson, HRW director for China - was to peacefully call for the right of minority peoples to use their own language—an act protected by China’s constitution and international human rights law". For the director, the activist's condemnation "shows that critics of minority government policies have no legal protection".

Beijing is pursuing a campaign of progressive marginalization of the Tibetan language: in 2012, the Tibetan language was removed from the public schools of Qinghai and Gansu, while the private schools that taught in the Tibetan language were forced to close.

In recent years, Chinese authorities have arrested dozens of Tibetan writers, artists, singers, educators, academics who are guilty of wanting to safeguard their culture and their civil rights. According to the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, the Dala Lama, the Chinese occupation of Tibet is manifesting itself as a "cultural genocide".

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