The Chinese government has sentenced Tibetan writer and translator Zangkar Jamyang from Kyungchu County of Ngaba, Sichuan Province, to four years in prison for allegedly undertaking separatist activities.
According to a source familiar with the incident, he was held incommunicado with no information on his location or health conditions since Chinese authorities arrested him suddenly on the evening of June 4, 2020. Recently, it was discovered that he was charged with inciting ‘separatist’ acts, such as participating in online discussions and spreading false information.
The Chinese authorities had secretly sentenced him and warned family members to refrain from sharing information publicly or would face possible arrest and punishment. He is currently being held at Mianyang Prison in Sichuan Province. There is no information on when he was sentenced or by which court. His health and condition are also not known.
The same source also said that while the exact reason for Zangkar Jamyang’s persecution is unknown, they feel it relates to Jamyang being vocal about the importance of teaching the Tibetan language in schools. He criticized the Chinese government when officials began implementing policies to drop the teaching of Tibetan language in schools across Kyungchu County in March 2020. On May 25, 2020, Jamyang authored an article that implored Tibetans to learn their native language and questioned whether prohibiting teaching the Tibetan language is permitted within the laws of the Tibetan land.
In 1998, while learning English in India, he was the editor of a Tibetan newspaper in Baxar. In 2002, he returned to Tibet and provided translation services to United Nations organizations and NGOs from the United States. In 2019, his application for a visa to go to the United States was approved, but he could not travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He has authored several essays which have been published in magazines such as ‘Dangchar’, as well as a book titled ‘Struggle with Wild Tongue’ (འཕག་འཚག་རྒོད་པའི་ལྕེ།) which features a compilation of his writings.
The 47-year-old from Kyungchu County in Ngaba, Northeast Tibet, was born to father Sonam Gonpo and mother Karma Don. He has two children with his wife, Lhamo Tso.