Persecution of Tibetan Language

Tibetan students coming back from their winter break are now entering classes taught only in Chinese as Chinese authorities push forward with policies that aimed at weakening student’s connection to their native language and culture.  

A source residing in the region told RFA this week that, teachers are also being given workshops on how to start teaching Children in the Chinese language. RFA’s source said under the condition of anonymity that, the purpose behind these to change is to brainwash the students. The RFA’s source also stated that in Tibet’s capital Lhasa, all the subjects in school are now being taught in Chinese. He said that he once questioned some students from these schools what they think about this and majority of them answered that they preferred being taught in Tibetan. 

The source also revealed that textbooks have now translated into Chinese in Golog (in Chinese, Guoluo ) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Northwestern China’s Qinghai province. Except classes on Tibetan Language itself, all other subjects like Math, Science and the fine arts are all being instructed in Chinese. Another source from Tibet said in a written message received by RFA that some of these texts had already been converted by the beginning of the last academic year. But now the focus on teaching in Chinese has increased in all Tibetan schools and the political ideology of Chinese President Xi Jingping is now a main theme for instruction. The source added that, Chinese authorities are suppressing the public discussion of these change to avoid protest by the Children’s parents and other impact on younger Tibetan’s connection to their national culture and identity. 

According to sources, monasteries in Qinghai have already been expelled from teaching Tibetan to students during their school holidays. Authorities in the province and neighboring Sichaun have also closed down private schools that instructs in Tibetan and also forced them to enroll into the government- run schools that only teaches only in Tibetan. 

Infact these policies and new changes in Tibetan Schools are introduced from long time back, but now the Chinese authorities are being secretive about it, claimed by Pema Gyal, a researcher at London based Tibet Watch. “The Chinese Communist Party has enforced various political re-education campaigns and other education drives in Tibet, but none of these accomplished what they were intended to, so now they are going to try brainwashing Tibetans from a very young age,” he said. Chinese authorities desire to replace local language education with teaching in Chinese have triggered anger not only among Tibetans but also in the Turkic- language speaking Uygur community of Xianjang and in northern China’s Inner Mongolia. Decisions to end the usage of the Mongolian language in ethnic Mongolian schools glowed weeks of class boycotts, streets protest, and a region wide crackdown by riot squads and state security police in the fall of 2020, in a process described by ethnic Mongolians as “cultural genocide.” Language rights have become a certain focus for Tibetan hard work to assert national identity in recent years, with informally organized language courses in the monasteries and towns deemed “illegal associations” and teachers subject to detention and arrest, sources say.

On 1st September 2021 Chinese government converted all the textbooks in Tibetan into Chinese and introduced Chinese Language as the official medium of instruction in school at every level from kindergarten to high school. Under this new language policy from the Chinese government in Tibet, a Tibetan university student named Choedon was arrested on 13th Feb 2021 by the Chinese authorities of Riwochen County. Choedon is from the village of Yamda in Riwochen County which is under the administration of the prefecture-level city of Chamdo Although authorities concerned have not shared the official reason for her arrest, Choedon’s families believes that it was related to her teaching Tibetan Language to Children in Yamda during school Holidays. Choedon currently studies at Southwest Minzu University in Chengdu. The source stated: “Choedon was arrested by the Chinese authorities but she has not committed any wrongdoing nor does she have any criminal record. Her family suspects that she was possibly detained for teaching the Tibetan language to children in her village during their winter vacation. Her family is worried about her safety as it has been more than five days since her arrest and disappearance but there is no hint about where she is being held or her condition”. As per the source, Choedon used to teach Tibetan Children in her village during vocation time and she is vigorous in the safeguarding and teaching the Tibetan language. Chinese authorities have also censored a number of different ways for Tibetan Children to learn their mother tongue. Authorities have forcefully shut down Tibetan Language schools and private schools where Tibetan language was being taught and prohibited Tibetan parent from organising online tutoring classes for their Children during their summer and winter holidays, a main restriction since most Tibetan parents prefer to give tuition on Tibetan language and Buddhism during this time. Monasteries are also being teaching Buddhism in Chinese Language (while the Dalai Lama has stated many times that Tibetan Buddhism can be best understood if one knows Tibetan language). The Chinese government has set a goal that by 2025, 85% of those living under Chinese Communist Party rule will speak the national language (“Putonghua” or “common tongue”).  Research last year by the Tibet Action Institute found that 800,000-900,000 Tibetan children have been separated from their families and placed into boarding schools, where they face political indoctrination.

News Desk

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