China jails Tibetan language activist for five years, human rights bodies cry foul

Tashi Wangchuk, according to Chinese authorities, is guilty of inciting separatism. All that Wangchuk wants, however, is to preserve the Tibetan language.

China jails Tibetan language activist for five years, human rights bodies cry foul
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He wants Tibetan culture, including local language and dialects, to be preserved and be passed on from one generation to another. What may be regarded as absolutely normal elsewhere though is deeply frowned upon in China - a country that has now jailed Tashi Wangchuk for five years on charges of 'inciting separatism.'

Wangchuk is a well-known activist for Tibetan language and has been struggling to stop what he calls as 'erosion of Tibetan culture' in China. He rubbed authorities the wrong way when he appeared in a documentary for The New York Times and was detained in 2016. He filed an appeal but recently, it was struck down and the now 32-year-old was given a five-year jail term on charges of 'inciting separatism.'

It is a charge that human rights organisations have condemned unequivocally.

Joshua Rosenzweig at Amnesty International told news agency Associated Press that putting Wangchuk behind bars is not just unethical but is gross injustice. "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," he was quoted as saying. Tashi’s treatment exposes the ruthless lengths to which the Chinese authorities will go to silence those who ask the government to stop cultural assimilation."

Shocking as it may be, the punishment given though not surprising in a country which is repeatedly accused of persecuting minorities - especially Tibetans and Uyghurs. While it considers Tibet a part of its territory, the Tibetan government-in-exile under Dalai Lama in India has repeatedly raised voice against the illegal occupation.

Security analysts firmly believe that there is a sense among Tibetans that China won't ever allow them the right to self-determination and the discourse from now should revolve around how best to preserve their culture while remaining with China. In communist China though, adherence to one single party and its leadership remains paramount and any other allegiance is almost always trampled upon.