Chinese authorities have again denied lawyers for imprisoned Tibetan language advocate Tashi Wangchuk permission to visit their client in Dongchuan Prison, Xining City, Qinghai Province.
Wangchuk had been sentenced to five years in prison in May 2018 for allegedly ‘inciting separatism’ because he criticised Chinese policies and practices on Tibetan language and culture. He did not accept the verdict and decided to appeal.
Wangchuk’s lawyers Lin Qilei and Liang Xiaojun were asked to show a ‘letter of introduction’ from the Beijing Justice Bureau by the Dongchuan Prison authorities when they visited on 1 August to meet with Wangchuk. The demand for additional document by prison authorities was illegal and clearly aimed at obstructing Wangchuk’s appeal against the unjust verdict.
In an update posted on his Twitter account earlier today, Liang wrote,”Yesterday morning, Lin Qilei and I went to Dongchuan Prison in Qinghai Province and asked to meet with Tashi Wangchuk. The responsible person took our documents [to his seniors] and came back after half an hour only to tell us that we needed to show another letter of introduction from the Beijing Justice Bureau. We pointed out that it was illegal. Then we went to the Qinghai Provincial Prison Administration to complain and make recommendations. There, the deputy director of the prison administration, displaying a pleasant demeanour, told us that the matter needed further investigation because it involved a sensitive case that required special treatment. And that Tashi Wangchuk had refused to accept the verdict and continued to oppose the management rules.”
Liang’s update highlights Wangchuk’s consistent conviction that he was unfairly sentenced and subjected to a series of human rights abuses for advocating Tibetan language education. It also shows that he has maintained a dogged determination to appeal his case despite overwhelming challenges.
This latest attempt by Wangchuk’s lawyers to meet him in connection with his appeal comes after more than six months when similar attempt was made but in vain. On 15 January this year, Lin could not meet his client and was turned away by prison authorities citing similar, obscure reasons to block the meeting.
The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) calls on the Chinese authorities to cease interfering with due legal process and allow justice to prevail. Numerous governments, human rights organisations and the UN human rights monitors have condemned Wangchuk’s sentencing as a miscarriage of justice and politicisation of the criminal justice system. Chinese authorities must consider Wangchuk’s appeal at the earliest and allow him to exercise the right to meet his lawyers.