"Free the Five” includes, Rinchen Tsultrim, Ilham Tohti, Zhang Zhan, Gao Zhisheng, and Li Qiaochu. Photo: file

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Auckland, New Zealand — Tibetans and supporters joined the "Free the Five" campaign by Amnesty International and they call on China to release those arrested and sentenced to years in prison by the Chinese Communist Party for simply exercising their basic human rights.

On January 25, 2022, the Auckland Tibetan Association joined the 'Free the Five' campaign to highlight the Chinese government's systematic violation of freedom of expression in Tibet, East Turkestan, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

"Free the Five” includes, Rinchen Tsultrim, Ilham Tohti, Zhang Zhan, Gao Zhisheng, and Li Qiaochu, who are imprisoned by Chinese authorities over-exercising their basic human rights.

They also held a peaceful vigil outside the Chinese Consulate in Auckland, New Zealand, and said: "Tibetan monk Rinchen Tsultrim, one of the five, was arbitrarily detained and then sentenced to four years and six months in prison merely for expressing his views. "

“Free the five!” is Amnesty’s ongoing campaign to highlight the Chinese government’s systematic violation of freedom of expression.

Rinchen Tsultrim was arrested with two other monks on the night of August 1, 2019, in the occupied territories of eastern Tibet, has been sentenced to four and a half years in prison in March 2021 by an Intermediate People's Court in Chengdu, Sichuan province. The 29-year-old monk from Kashul village in Ngaba County (Ch: Aba Prefecture, Sichuan Province), eastern Tibet.

Rinchen Tsultrim was confined continuously in connection to his discussions and writing on Tibet issues with Tibetans abroad. He was arrested twice with his younger brother Norbu Tsering in 2018, for discussing Tibet-related issues with someone from outside Tibet. He was also accused of importing rare and important scripts from outside Tibet and spreading them across many regions inside Tibet through post offices. He has also been blamed for writing many Tibet-related topics on his personal blog, ‘Chetawa’ which has also been closed later.

Ilham Tohti is an Uyghur economist serving a life sentence in China. He is a strong advocate for the implementation of regional autonomy laws in China and is known for his research on Uyghur-Han relations.

Zhang Zhan is a Chinese citizen journalist and former lawyer who went to Wuhan in February 2020, from where she reported on the impact of the lockdown imposed in the city in response to the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan and questioned the authorities' handling of the crisis. She was arrested in May 2020, tortured, and sentenced to four years imprisonment for allegedly "picking a fight and causing trouble" in December 2020.

Gao Zhisheng is a well-known human rights lawyer in China. He has been persecuted, abducted, and sentenced to prison over the years. In August 2017, he was reported missing again and has not been heard from since then.

Li Qiaochu is a human rights activist. She was detained by the Chinese authorities for four months in early 2020 and then again in February 2021, in both cases on alleged national security grounds. The detentions were due to her links with activists, including her boyfriend Xu Zhiyong, who had secretly met in the southeastern city of Xiamen in December 2019 to discuss "China's democratic transition".