China/Tibet Autonomous Region
Status: Conditional Release
Shokjang is a poet, lyricist, short story writer and essayist, and author of four books: The Courageous Path, The Might of the Pen, For Liberty, I Have No Regrets, and Rangdrol’s Courage. The Chinese authorities have banned The Courageous Path.
Shokjang was born in Ghyengya village in Sangchu County, Amdo, Tibet. He studied Tibetan literature at the Northwest Nationalities University in Lanzhou. He translated the works of Chinese democracy activists such as Wang Lixiong and Yu Jie. In 2008, he organized student protests calling for greater freedom for Tibetans. In 2010, he was detained for a month for his involvement in the 2008 uprising in Tibet and the publishing of a banned literary magazine. He was arrested in the town Rebkong and taken to Tongren prison on March 19, 2015. In the days leading up to his arrest, he wrote a blog post about the deployment of Chinese security forces in Tibet. Shokjang was reportedly released in mid-March 2018, but he remains subject to restrictions and surveillance, according to other activists.
On February 17, 2016, the Malho Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Shokjang to three years imprisonment and two years deprivation of political rights for inciting separatism. Shokjang wrote a letter of appeal to the Qinghai Higher People’s Court, explaining the arbitrary and illegal manner in which he was detained. At around midnight on March 16, 2015, two officers barged into his hotel room in Rebkong and ransacked his belongings. On March 19, he was detained by Rebkong County police officers and taken to the county detention center on March 20. On May 5, authorities announced that they had detained Shokjang. On July 21, the Malho Intermediate People’s Court held a trial, but it had to be postponed for over seven months because Shokjang maintained that he was innocent.
According to the Malho Intermediate People’s court, Shokjang committed crimes by writing an essay on freedom of religion, writing a blogpost recounting the events of 16 March 2015, when gun-wielding armed police officers conducted a search at his hotel room, sharing online an extract from the book, The Line between Sky and Earth and a news article stating that the Chinese government was willing to talk with His Holiness the Dalai Lama on matters other than Tibetan independence, posting online video footage of Chinese police beating ordinary Chinese people in the street, and storing on his phone six books, including Wang Lixiong’s Sky Burial: The Fate of Tibet.
Tibetans are commonly charged with national security crimes such as “splitting the nation” or “inciting separatism” but as evident in Article 103 of the Chinese Criminal Code, both terms are vaguely worded, allowing Chinese authorities to interpret the provisions as they see fit.
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