Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission. Photo: REUTERS

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Brussels, Belgium — The European Union Wednesday said it expects the Chinese authorities to respect the right to freedom of expression of all citizens as recognised by China's Constitution and in line with China’s international law obligations and demanded the immediate release of jailed language rights advocate of Tibet.

"Human rights defender, Mr Tashi Wangchuk, who was detained in January 2016, was convicted of inciting separatism and sentenced to five years' imprisonment by the Yushu Intermediate People's Court on 22 May 2018," High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini said in a statement issued on May 23, 2018.

Mogherini who is Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations said: "Mr Tashi's rights under China's Criminal Procedure Law and international law obligations to a fair trial, to be tried without undue delay, and to mount a proper defence, were not fully respected."

"We expect the Chinese authorities to respect the right to freedom of expression of all citizens as recognised by China's Constitution and in line with China’s international law obligations, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," she said, adding: "China also needs to ensure that ethnic minorities enjoy equal rights, including freedom of expression and belief, as mandated by the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which China ratified in 1981."

"Tashi Wangchuk and other detained and convicted human rights defenders and lawyers including Ilham Tohti, Wang Quanzhang, Li Yuhan, Huang Qi and Yu Wensheng must be released immediately," the statement reads.

Tashi Wangchuk, 33, was sentenced to five years in prison by a Chinese court on Tuesday, for allegedly “inciting separatism”. He was tried earlier this year on January 4 at Yushu Intermediate People’s Court but the court adjourned without a verdict at that time. He was first detained on 27 January 2016 for publicly advocating Tibetan language education in schools in Tibetan populated areas. Two months before his detention, Tashi Wangchuk appeared in a New York Times documentary in which he can be seen advocating for the rights of Tibetans to learn and study in their mother tongue.

Communist China began running Tibet after the military invasion of Tibet in 1949, assuring that freedom of Tibetan people would be respected. But Tibetans say the dictatorship government led by Mao— known as one of the most deadly mass killings of human history, went back on his word, forcing His Holiness the Dalai Lama to flee Tibet in 1959, destroying more than 6000 monasteries and temples and killing over 1.2 million Tibetans, out of a total of 6 million. Since then, Tibetans have launched an international campaign against the "occupying" China's authoritarian state that continues to face criticism for human rights violations in suppressing the people of Tibet.

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