CHAIRMAN’S NOTE May – June 2018

Tashi Wangchuk: We were saddened to learn about the sentencing of Mr. Tashi Wangchuk to five years in prison, for simply expressing concerns about the fading of Tibetan culture under policies enacted by local officials. He travelled to Beijing trying unsuccessfully to bring a lawsuit against local officials and failing to get China Central Television, the main state television network, to do a story on his mission. However his story was picked up by Times journalists who followed him and videotaped his Travels to Beijing. This interview was subsequently aired in 2015.

Tashi Wangchuk has advocated for education and the preservation of Tibetan as a minority language. He was detained on January 27, 2016 after The New York Times published a video about him and his work promoting the rights of minorities in the People’s Republic of China. The documentary shows he was travelling to Beijing to charge local Chinese authorities with denying Tibetans the right to learn in their native language.

However, during the trial, officials presented as evidence a nine-minute video that The Times produced in 2015 that had interviews with Mr. Tashi about the dire state of Tibetan language education in Tibetan regions. He had insisted on doing all interviews on record.

According to sources, during the January 2018 trial which lasted for about four hours, the court said that Tashi Wangchuk defamed the government of “murdering ethnic culture” and “destroying the written and spoken language,” and “controlling the Tibetan people’s actual use of Tibetan ethnic culture” and “tight surveillance” and “arbitrary arrests” for any reason. The courts pronounced that such actions “are against the Article 103 Section 2 of the Criminal Law of the PRC [… and] that he committed incitement of separatism.” He was sentenced to five years jail. Since detention counts as part of his sentence, he will probably leave prison in early 2021, his lawyers said.

Since the sentencing of Tashi Wangchuk, many governments and the UN condemned the Chinese government for wrongfully jailing him and request the Chinese government release him immediately.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s 83rd Birthday celebration will be held on 30th June 2018 at Beach Haven Ratepayers Hall. The Tibetan Community in Auckland will host a dinner for all our supporters in appreciation of many years of dedication to the cause of Tibet. We have special guests for the evening: Kalon Phgpa Tsering and Scretary Karma Rinchen from Dharamsala, India and Representative Lhakpa Tshoko from Tibet Information Office, Canberra. The Tibetan community has issued an invitation to all the members of Friends of Tibet (NZ). They are looking forward to see many of you there, please check the advertisement at the back of this newsletter. Please RSVP by 25th June for catering purposes.

Best wishes and Tashi Delek

Thuten Kesang
National chairman