A press statement,jointly issued by three Special Rapporteurs of the Human Rights Council of United Nations has revived the ghastly memories of ethnic cleansing of Red Indians and Aborigines in North America, Latin America and Australia which was committed by the Europeans to establish their colonies. In this statement, released on 6 February this month in Geneva, the three independent experts and Rapporteurs of the HRC have come out with a shocking revelation that the Chinese government is running a chain of residential schools where about a million Tibetan children are forcibly lodged in order to wipe out their Tibetan cultural identity and to brainwash them into Chinese Han culture.
The three experts Mr. Fernand de Varennes, Ms. Farida Shaheed and Ms. Alexandra Xanthaki who are respectively Special UN Rapporteurs for minority issues, right to education and cultural rights, said in their joint statement, “We are very disturbed that in recent years the residential schools system for Tibetan children appears to act as a mandatory large-scale programme intended to assimilate Tibetans into majority Han culture, contrary to international human rights standards.” In their study they discovered that Tibetan children, forcibly taken away from their families are lodged permanently into specially established schools across Tibet Autonomous Region as well as in other parts of original Tibet which are now part of adjoining Chinese provinces. As already alleged repeatedly by various Tibetan groups, including the Central Tibetan Administration which was established by the deposed and exiled ruler of Tibet Dalai Lama, the education in Tibetan language has been banned across Tibet and the education medium has been changed exclusively to Mandarin Chinese. There have been many cases where community schools, run by Tibetan volunteers to impart Tibetan language teaching to Tibetan children and youths outside the Chinese run schools are shut down, razed and the teachers were sent to jail.
In newly established special schools which are run by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the children are not allowed to visit their families and are punished for talking to each other in Tibetan language. Commenting on this statement of UNHRC experts, GonpoDhundup, President of Tibetan Youth Congress said to this author, “President Xi Jinping has not only closed Tibetan language schools across Tibet but his government has started a new movement of snatching away Tibetan children as young as four and five years from their parents and pushing them into residential Chinese language schools. In the name of education these little kids are being subjected to communist brainwashing and loyalty to the CCP”.
It is interesting to note that the campaign of using education to convert Tibetan children into ‘patriotic’ Chinese citizens has gained momentum following the sudden and unannounced visit of President Xi to Tibet in July 2021. During his
visit to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, President Xi had addressed a special gathering of the cadres of CCP and the Chinese administrators of Tibet in which he had called upon them to work for establishing Tibetan Buddhism with ‘Chinese Socialist Character’. The statement of the UNHRC Rapporteurs has referred to the directivesof China’s Central Conference on Ethnic Affairs which was issued in August 2021 soon after Xi’s above mentioned call in Tibet. According to this statement the Conference had asked all ethnic groups of China to ensure that “interests of the Chinese nation were above all else.”China’s ongoing campaign of confining millions of Uygur Muslims of Xinjiang into a vast range of concentration camps across the occupied region is also aimed at eliminating Islam and Uyighur national values from the minds of population in order to mold them into a uniform Chinese socialist identity.
The current report of the UNHRC Rapporteurs reflects a big contradiction between the established behavior patterns of the Human Rights Council which has been repeatedly voting against even a discussion about the serious human rights situation in China and its colonies like Tibet, Xinjiang and Southern Mongolia. Interestingly, almost all Islamic countries including Qatar, Pakistan and Indonesia have been voting every time to protect China from scrutiny of its actions against the Muslim population of Xinjiang. Last year in October a similar resolution was defeated by thin margins of 17 to 19 and abstention by 11 countries. The Amnesty International had expressed its dismay at this voting saying, “Today’s vote protects the perpetrators of human rights violations rather than the victims – a dismaying result that puts the UN’s main human rights body in the farcical position of ignoring the findings of the UN’s own human rights office.” The current findings of the UN HRC Rapporteurs may or may not affect the next voting in the Council on this subject. But these observations have revived the ghastly memories of 19th Century when besides mass shootings of the Read Indians of America and Aborigines in Australia, the white settlers from colonial Britain, France, Germany and Holland etc. had extensively used the Christian Church to run residential schools for ethnic cleansing. In these schools the local children were brainwashed, sexually exploited and even killed to wipe out their original cultural identity and to convert them into obedient Christian subjects of the white masters. President Xi Jinping’s currently ongoing system of residential CCP schools and concentration camps in Xinjiang to convert the locals colonial subjects into a uniform population with ‘Chinese Socialist Character’ is the modern version of the cultural genocide of 19th century and a challenge to the collective world conscience.