Wednesday, April 30, 2008

【20080430 Press Release】RELEASE TASHI TSERING NOW!


During the Nagano leg of the Beijing Olympic torch relay, Tashi Tsering (札西慈仁), an exiled Tibetan holding Taiwanese passport, was brought into police custody under the charge of “forcible obstruction of business” for his attempt to approach the torch, and was detained with no visitors allowed for 48 hours.

After the 48-hour detention period was over on April 28, he was transferred to a prosecutor for interrogation. There, a decision to extend the no-visitor detention period to 10 days was made. It will remain unknown what awaits him after the 10 days—release, more detention, or indictment.

We would like to express our regret and strong protest to the Japanese government over the way Tashi Tsering’s case is handled.

Japan is by no means an authoritarian state; rather, it’s a democratic country where people enjoy the freedom of speech. Hence, anyone’s right to freely express his or her opinion should be highly respected. What Tashi Tsering did in Japan, was peaceful and non-violent. He was merely approaching the torch and shouted what he believes in: “free Tibet”. He did not threaten the Olympic torch with force.

Therefore, the charge that the local police brought against him—forcible obstruction of business, is all but inadequate.

It has happened in other countries as well, that protesters against the Olympic torch were arrested to keep the relay in order, and they were all quickly released afterwards. Along with Tashi Tsering, there were several Japanese who protested the torch by throwing eggs at it; they were quickly released as well.

Considering all of the above, we believe that what the Japanese police authority does to Tashi Tsering—putting him in custody for 48 hours and extended the detention period—is unusual.

We ask that the Japanese government follow all required legal procedures, that Tashi Tsering be provided interpretation, that he be assisted by an attorney, so that he may fully understand the Japanese legal procedure that he is facing.

In addition, he should be allowed to receive visitors as soon as possible—it is unreasonable to put Tashi Tsering in detention with no visitors allowed for 12 days.

We suspect that the Japanese government may be facing political pressure from the People’s Republic of China, as the prolonged detention of Tashi Tsering is quite unusual. In other similar cases, a person in custody is usually released after the 48-hour detention period. We hereby urge the Japanese government to stand firm behind human rights values, and not to bow to political pressure from China.


Organizations in solidarity with Tashi Tsering:
Taiwan Friends of Tibet, Regional Tibetan Youth Congress-Taiwan Chapter, Taiwan Tibetan Welfare Association, Taiwan-Tibet Exchange Foundation, Taiwan Association for Human Rights, Taiwan Labor Front, Taiwan International Solidarity Center (New add-ons welcome).

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