shawo-tashi-500x500NAME: Shawo Tashi
AGE: 41
OCCUPATION: Musician
SENTENCE DATE: 26 January 2013
SENTENCE: 5 years imprisonment
TIME SERVED TO DATE: 1,410 days
CHARGE: Seditiously splitting the state


As part of our “#ArtIsNotACrime – not in Tibet, not anywhere” campaign, today we are spotlighting the case of Tibetan musician Shawo Tashi and calling for his immediate release. We are also calling on the Chinese government to abolish the arbitrary charge of “seditiously splitting the state”.

On 26 January 2013, Shawo Tashi was sentenced to five years in prison and three years deprivation of political rights. He has currently served 1,410 days at a prison in the city of Xining in Qinghai.

According to the Chinese government’s official response to the 2014 United Nations Human Rights Council urgent appeal, Tashi was charged on suspicion of “seditiously splitting the state” and promoting self-immolation protests, which have increased in the past few years, reflecting Tibetans’ desperation . The International Campaign for Tibet claims that the charge of “seditiously splitting the state” is based on Tashi’s album ‘Distant Father’, which refers to the Dalai Lama, and his many songs praising Tibetan culture.

The self-immolation protests, which have increased in number in the past few years, reflect the desperation that many Tibetans are currently facing about the lack of process on the campaign to achieve Tibetan independence. According to Tibet Society, over 143 Tibetans have resorted to self-immolating to protest the Chinese government’s regime in Tibet; with 124 Tibetans known to have died from the form of protest.

Tashi’s sentence of five years is exceptionally harsh for simply making an album praising the Dalai Lama and participating in anti-China protests. We call on the Chinese government to abolish the charge of “seditiously splitting the state”, the vaguely-worded state security crime frequently used to imprison Tibetans asserting their culture and identity.

Please help us in securing the release of Shawo Tashi from prison and ending the arbitrary use of the “seditiously splitting the state” charge by sharing this story with your colleagues and friends, and on your social media profiles, using the hashtags #ArtIsNotACrime and #FreeShawoTashi.

Follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and share our social media messages.

Tomorrow, we will spotlight the case of Kelsang Yarphel, so be sure to return and read his story.


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The government of China is currently holding at least five Tibetan musicians in prison for nothing more than singing and writing songs. In the run up to World Human Rights Day on 10 December 2016, we must remind China that art is not a crime and that musicians Lo Lo, Shawo Tashi, Kelsang Yarphel, Gonpo Tenzin and Trinley Tsekar, and all artists, have the human right and freedom to artistically express themselves, including the right to sing about their culture and identity, without fear of punishment. Sadly, some of these artists are also reported to suffer from severe health problems stemming from mistreatment in Chinese custody.

To raise awareness of these artists and show that art is not a crime, Freemuse is running a “#ArtIsNotACrime not in Tibet, not anywhere” campaign leading up to World Human Rights Day on Saturday 10 December 2016.

The campaign began on Monday 5 December 2016 and is each day spotlighting the case of a different Tibetan musician imprisoned for their art. Freemuse is also calling on the Chinese government to abolish the arbitrary charge of “seditiously splitting the state”, respect the rule of law and international human rights, and provide transparency in its reporting to international bodies on imprisoned artists.

“Imprisoning Tibetan artists is a grave violation of their human right to artistic freedom. We call on the Chinese government to release these musicians immediately, as well as any other artists it continues to hold arbitrarily on vague charges.” – Ole Reitov, Freemuse Executive Director


Visit freemuse.org/tibet for more


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