03/01/2017 - China – Tibet: PEN reiterates its calls for the release of writer and editor Kunchok Tsephel Gopey Tsang

PEN reiterates its calls on the Chinese authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Tibetan writer and editor, Kunchok Tsephel Gopey Tsang. Gopey Tsang, the co-founder/editor of the Tibetan language website Chomei (The Lamp), www.tibetcm.com, was convicted of “disclosing state secrets” on November 12th 2009, and is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence. February 26th 2017 marked the eighth anniversary of his arrest. On the basis of the available evidence, PEN International believes that he is very likely to have been imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression. PEN is also concerned by reports of the deterioration of Gopey Tsang’s health and calls on the authorities to ensure that he is granted access to all necessary medical care.

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Please send appeals:

  • Seeking information about the precise reasons for the imprisonment of Kunchok Tsephel Gopey Tsang, internet writer and co-founder/editor of the Tibetan language website Chomei;
  • Calling for his immediate and unconditional release if he is held – as PEN International believes is very likely to be the case – solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression;
  • Seeking assurances that Kunchok Tsephel Gopey Tsang has access to all necessary medical care whilst detained and is not ill-treated;
  • Reminding the Chinese authorities that Article 35 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China provides for freedom of speech and that as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which provides for freedom of legitimate expression, the right not to be arbitrarily detained and the right to a fair trial, they are obliged to “refrain from acts that would defeat or undermine the treaty’s objective and purpose”;
  • Reminding the Chinese authorities that restrictions on freedom of expression based on national security are not legitimate unless their genuine purpose and demonstrable effect is to protect its territorial integrity against the use or threat of force;
  • Urging the Chinese authorities to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights without delay.
  • Send appeals to:
    His Excellency Xi Jinping
    President of the People’s Republic of China
    State Council
    Beijing 100032
    P.R. China
    Fax: +86 10 6238 1025
    Salutation: Your Excellency

    We recommend that you copy your appeal to the Chinese embassy in your country asking them to forward it and welcoming any comments. See this useful link to find the contact details of the Chinese embassy in your country Chinese embassies abroad

    A letter or petition signed by an eminent member of your Centre may make it more likely for your appeal to be considered. Similarly, if your appeal is published in your local press and copied to the Chinese ambassador, this too may have greater impact.

    PUBLICITY
    PEN members are encouraged to:

  • Publish articles and opinion pieces in your national or local press highlighting the situation in Tibet Autonomous Region.
  • Organize public events, stage readings, press conferences or demonstrations.
  • Share information about Tibet and your campaigning activities for Kunchok Tsephel Gopey Tsang via social media
  • Remember to let us know about your activities and to send us reports about them so that we can share them with other Centres.
  • SOLIDARITY
    You are encouraged to elect Kunchok Tsephel Gopey Tsang as an honorary member of your Centre and by doing so provide long term support and advocacy for him and his family. For details of the PEN International Honorary Membership scheme, read the PEN WiPC Guide to Defending Writers Under Attack (Part V, pgs 15-20). Please let us know if you do so and we will ensure that your Centre is networked with others working on his case.

    Background
    Kunchok Tsephel Gopey Tsang, born in 1970, is a writer and co-founder/editor of the Tibetan language website Chomei (The Lamp) www.tibetcm.com, which promotes Tibetan culture and literature. The website was created by Gopey Tsang and leading Tibetan poet Kyab-chen De-drol in 2005, featuring both classical and contemporary Tibetan writing, and was the first ever Tibetan literary website. It provides a platform for contemporary Tibetan language writers to voice their concerns, experience, and opinion in poetry and fiction, and as such has been closely monitored by the Chinese authorities. According to reports, the website was shut down several times during 2007 and 2008. At the time of his arrest, Gopey Tsang was working as an environmental officer for the Chinese government. According to his family, he was deeply concerned about the issue of environmental protection and worked tirelessly in his spare time to document environmental degradation in the grasslands.

    Gopey Tsang was arrested by Chinese security officials at his home in the town of Nyul-ra, Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province on 26 February 2009. At the time of his arrest, his house was searched and his computer confiscated. He was held incommunicado at an undisclosed location until 12 November 2009, when he was sentenced to a 15-year prison sentence for ‘disclosing state secrets’ at the Intermediate People’s Court of Kanlho, in a closed hearing. As a result of the political sensitivity, lack of due process and general obscurity surrounding cases concerning “state secrets”, the precise reason for his arrest and the harsh sentence against him is still not known. His family was not told of his whereabouts until they were summoned to court to hear the verdict, and no lawyer has been willing to provide him with legal assistance to appeal. Gopey Tsang’s case remains shrouded in secrecy, and his sentence is not due to expire until 2024.

    Gopey Tsang served four years of his sentence in Dingxi prison, Lanzhu, Gansu Province before being transferred in August 2013 to a new prison nearby where conditions are harsher and there are serious concerns for his health.

    According to recent reports, Gopey Tsang is currently in poor physical condition; his family’s attempts to deliver traditional Tibetan medicines during one of their regular visits have been denied. The family fears that he is not receiving the proper medical treatment by the prison administration.