A Tibetan writer sentenced to three years in prison in February for writing material deemed politically sensitive by China’s government has appealed his prison term, saying that China’s constitution protects the right to express one’s views in writing.
Shokjang, also called Druklo, was jailed on Feb. 17 by the People’s Intermediate Court in Rebgong (in Chinese, Tongren) county in the Malho (Huangnan) prefecture in northwestern China’s Qinghai province, a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
Now, Shokjang has protested his sentence to a higher court in Qinghai, arguing in a 17-page appeal, a copy of which has been obtained by RFA, that his writings are protected by Chinese law, RFA’s source said.
Writing in both Tibetan and Chinese, Shokjang said that China’s constitution guarantees the freedom of expression, allowing one to express one’s views in writing, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“He offered an apology if anything he wrote had mistakenly violated specific provisions of the constitution without his knowledge,” he said.
“He also said that his wife and children are counting the minutes and seconds until his return, and therefore hopes for a speedy and positive decision by the appeals court,” the source said.
Shokjang’s family have not been allowed to visit him since he was taken into custody, he added.
Shokjang was secretly detained on March 19, 2015, around the same time that a friend of his was also taken away, a source in the region told RFA in an earlier report.
“Before his detention, he had written about the increased presence of Chinese armed security forces in the Rebgong area and about crackdowns on Tibetans,” the source said.
Shokjang had also written an article that month about conditions in a school in Kangtsa (Gangcha) county in the Tsojang (Haibei) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai.
Shokjang was among the 23 journalists and 83 bloggers that the ruling Chinese Communist Party put behind bars in 2015, according to an end-of-year report by the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
Reported by Lhuboom for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.