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Canada welcomes the release of Tashi Wangchuk and calls on China to guarantee freedoms for all Tibetans

December 29, 2020

Ottawa, January 29, 2021 – Canadian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Marc Garneau today tweeted that Canada welcomes the release of Tibetan language advocate Tashi Wagnchuk, and called on the Government of China to “guarantee freedoms for all Tibetans and release all imprisoned for exercising their rights.”
On January 28, Chinese lawyer Liang Xiaojun tweeted news that Tibetan language advocate Tashi Wangchuk was released after five years in prison, and added that he was unsure if Tashi was “fully free”. A day after the release, Liang shared his concern that Tashi may be subjected to official restrictions on any outside communication.
Tibetan language advocate Tashi Wangchuk was detained in 2016 after appearing in a New York Times documentary about the diminishing use of the Tibetan language. In 2018, Tashi was sentenced to 5 years of prison. The sentencing was strongly condemned by rights groups and the government representatives from various democratic countries including Canada. Canadian Embassy in China tweeted an unequivocal response, calling upon the Chinese Government to release him ‘immediately and unconditionally’. Canada’s Embassy urged the Chinese government to ‘uphold its own Constitution’, and affirmed Canada’s support for the February 2018 United Nations Special Rapporteurs statement, condemning the detention of Tashi Wangchuk as ‘the criminalisation of linguistic and cultural rights advocacy’.
Canada’s call for the release of ‘all imprisoned for exercising their rights’ is seen as an important statement by the Tibet groups in Canada. “Arbitrary detention and sentencing without a proper trial and evidence by a judicial system that is not independent of the one-party system government needs to be challenged and called on more often, by more countries, and in a more multilateral setting,” said Sherap Therchin, executive director of Canada Tibet Committee.  

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