Tibetan language advocate and former political prisoner, Tashi Wangchuk. Photo: file

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Dharamshala, India — Former Tibetan political prisoner Tashi Wangchuk was attacked by a group of masked men. Doctors rejected any medical treatment for him and staff refused to admit him to hospital. The hotel owners denied him a room for the night. So he spent the night in hospital on a stool, with a feeling of helplessness.

Tashi Wangchuk is a Tibetan businessman, language advocate and former political prisoner. Tashi Wangchuk spent five years in prison for his efforts to protect the teaching of the Tibetan language in Tibetan schools and he released in 2021.

According to Tashi Wangchuk's post on Chinese social media ((Douyin) on August 20, 2023, he said that he had travelled to Darlak County in eastern Tibet, on the evening of August 19, 2023, and visited the Nationality College in Darlak County. He noticed that he was being followed by a car wherever he went. After trying many hotels, he finally found a room and stayed there, but suddenly a group of men arrived and forced him to open the door, and then he was beaten and kicked by a group of masked men for 10 minutes.

Tashi Wangchuk begged the group to stop attacking him and asked the hotel owner to contact the police. The police arrived at his hotel room at around 9pm and took him to the police station for questioning, where Tashi Wangchuk was held until around 11.30pm.

Tashi Wangchuk wrote," I told the police that I needed a record of the report, in which I hoped to record the course of the assault and the time and place of the assault, and they would find out who was behind the instructions and the arrangements, and shortly afterwards, at 23.30, they began to take a statement, which lasted an hour, and then told me to go back."

The Tibetan language adocate wrote, "I went back to look for a hotel and searched for about an hour without finding one, but during that time there was a car that kept following me, and then I went back to the police station and asked one of the police officers to take me to a small hotel, and after the police officers had taken me to the small hotel, the owner of the hotel asked me to leave his hotel."

"Then I left the small hotel, walked for a long time to find a big hotel, they said they have no room, then I asked them to sit in the hotel lobby until dawn, the hotel said that today the Public Security Bureau issued a notice not to allow a person to stay in the hotel, and showed me the notice," he added.

"While I was sitting there, the hotel received a phone call, they said it was from Public Security Bureau, then requested me to leave, the hotel said that they were afraid that the hotel would be closed in the future, and then I went to another hotel, but it was closed at that time," Tashi Wangchuk explained.

"Then I went to the hospital in Darlak County. I said I had been beaten up and needed a head CT to keep evidence, saying that the CT was break down. We found an empty seat on the first floor of the hospital, and a doctor came a while later and drove me to the ground floor, and then a Tibetan doctor came behind me and told me to leave the hospital, and then I sat on the stool on the ground floor for the rest of the night," the former Tibetan political prisoner said.

Finally, Tashi Wangchuk called on the public to expose the illegal behaviour of staff in government agencies and said, "I started to write the process of what happened and I hope that the general public will expose this kind of gang work, lawlessness and mutual cover up of the illegal behaviour of the staff of the government agencies. Thank you."

John Jones, Head of Campaigns Policy and Research at Free Tibet said, "Whoever carried it out, this attack on Tashi Wangchuk is hugely concerning. Tashi Wangchuk always was, and remains, a peaceful advocate for promoting the Tibetan language, a language that is facing an existential threat. He has already sacrificed his liberty and safety to urge China to comply with its own constitution and allow the teaching of Tibetan. Authorities must act on these concerns and guarantee that Tashi Wangchuk sees no further threats of violence or imprisonment. We, and the world, are watching."

Tenzin Choekyi, Senior Researcher at Tibet Watch said, "Tashi Wangchuk’s advocacy for Tibetan language, a right guaranteed under the Chinese constitution, was criminalised at a time when mother-tongue protection groups in Tibet were blacklisted as ‘underworld forces’ under China’s 2018 nation-wide campaign against criminal gangs. Not only were his rights trampled upon, the court of his home residence carried out the entirety of his trial in Mandarin, a language that has systematically replaced Tibetan language from all spheres of Tibetan society. Meanwhile, two years after his release, he is at risk from real criminals, with little protection. This is the hypocrisy of China’s criminal justice system."