China warns countries against criticizing Tibetan activist’s sentencing

Beijing, May 23 (IANS) China on Wednesday cautioned countries against criticizing the five-year prison sentence handed down to Tibetan language activist Tashi Wangchuk, urging them not to interfere in its domestic affairs and avoid jeopardizing bilateral relations.

Wangchuk was sentenced on Tuesday for inciting separatism after years of promoting and defending Tibetan language and culture. The ruling has led to widespread condemnation from human rights organisations and the international community, Efe news reported.

“We hope other countries and governments will not interfere in China’s internal matters,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said when asked to comment on the French government’s criticism of the sentence.

The French Foreign Affairs Ministry earlier criticized the prison sentence handed down to Tashi Wangchuk and said that France “was committed to the protection of human rights”.

Lu Kang said such comments were likely to have a detrimental effect on China’s bilateral diplomatic relationships.

The Chair of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights, Pier Antonio Panzeri, also expressed concern over Wangchuck and highlighted his legitimate work in defending the linguistic and cultural rights of Tibetans.

“The peaceful activity of promoting the use of the Tibetan language in local schools should never be punished as this is a basic human right guaranteed by the Chinese constitution and legal system,” Panzeri said.

According to Wangchuk’s lawyer, the main evidence presented against his client during the trial was a video made in 2015 by the New York Times about his campaign on promoting education in Tibetan language in schools.

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