Tibetan writer Zangkar Jamyang and his book entitled "Struggling Tongue". Photo: TPI

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Dharamshala — Chinese authorities sentenced a Tibetan writer to four years in prison for writing an article criticising the Chinese government's replacement of the Tibetan language with Chinese in Tibetan schools, which endangers the mother tongue.

According to sources, Chinese authorities detained a Tibetan writer named Zangkar Jamyang on June 4, 2020 and sentenced him to four years in prison, allegedly for "splittism and spreading rumours in internet chat groups".

“Jamyang disappeared after being suddenly arrested by Chinese authorities on June 4, 2020. His family members tried to find out where he was being held, but were unable to do so,” said the source.

“Chinese authorities sentenced Jamyang to four years in prison by a Chinese court, allegedly for "splittism and spreading rumours in internet chat groups". He is imprisoned in Menyang Prison, near the city of Chengdu in Sichuan Province, China,” the source added.

"It is not clear why the Chinese authorities arrested Jamyang and sentenced him to four years in prison. But it must be related to Jamyang's article calling for Tibetan to be taught in schools and criticising the Chinese government for replacing Tibetan with the Chinese language in Tibetan schools," the source said.

Jamyang's article entitled "My Father's Language", in which he recounts how he learned that the Chinese authorities are replacing mathematics, science, political science and other subjects taught in Tibetan with the Chinese language. This information made him disbelieve and fearful. He demanded a clear explanation from the authorities and also urged other educated Tibetans to raise these issues. He recalled that the Chinese constitution guarantees the right to learn the Tibetan language.

But in reality, the Chinese authorities arrested him and sentenced him to four years in prison for simply writing an article expressing his thoughts on the fate of the Tibetan language. He is an example of educated Tibetans who merely exercised their basic rights and were tortured by the Chinese authorities. There are many Tibetans like him, faced Chinese government’s arrested, sentenced, tortured and even death, like Go Sherab Gyatso, Gangkye Drukpa Kyab, Gendun Lhundup, and Thubten Lobsang Lhundup.

Jamyang came to India in 1998 and studied English before returning to Tibet. He is fluent in Tibetan, English and Chinese. He has written a book entitled "Struggling Tongue" <འཕག་འཚག་རྒོད་པའི་ལྕེ>, and has written articles for well-known Tibetan magazines, including Dang Char.

After returning to Tibet in 2002, he provided translation services to UN organisations and NGOs from the US and also worked as a tour guide and translator for visitors to the region. In 2019, he was granted a visa to the US, but was unable to travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the source, Jamyang, 47, is from Kyungchu County in Ngaba, Amdo region, northeast Tibet. His father called Sonam Gonpo and his mother is Karma Don. His wife called Lhamo and they have two children.