Newspaper article International New York Times

Tibetan Charged with Inciting Separatism ; Detained by China, Education Advocate Faces Up to 15 Years in Prison

Newspaper article International New York Times

Tibetan Charged with Inciting Separatism ; Detained by China, Education Advocate Faces Up to 15 Years in Prison

Article excerpt

After being detained in secret for weeks, Tashi Wangchuk, a local entrepreneur, could face up to 15 years in prison.

A detained Tibetan entrepreneur who advocated for bilingual education in schools across Tibetan regions of China has been charged with inciting separatism, according to an official police document.

The entrepreneur, Tashi Wangchuk, 30, is being held at the main detention center in Yushu, the town in Qinghai Province in western China, where he lives with his elderly parents. Mr. Tashi could face up to 15 years in prison if found guilty, depending on the specifics of the allegations against him.

Mr. Tashi was detained on Jan. 27 and held in secret for weeks. His relatives said they were not told of his detention until March 24, though Chinese law requires that a detainee's family be notified within 24 hours. A document stating the charge against Mr. Tashi, which a police officer gave the family, and a photograph of which was seen by The New York Times, was dated March 4.

Before his detention, Mr. Tashi had written on his microblog that Tibetans needed to protect their culture and that Chinese officials should aid them in doing so. He has argued for greater Tibetan autonomy within China, but none of his known writings have called for Tibetan independence, which he has said he opposes.

The family said it has not been able to find a local lawyer to represent Mr. Tashi. Officials have not yet announced a trial date.

Mr. Tashi's case has attracted international attention. Officials at the State Department are aware of his detention, and a representative of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression said the group was starting a petition to call for his release. President Obama may raise human rights issues with his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping, when Mr. Xi visits Washington this week for a summit meeting on nuclear issues.

As an advocate for Tibetan culture, Mr. Tashi has been most vocal about language education, saying that schools should adopt a true system of bilingual education so that Tibetan children can become fluent in their mother language. …

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