To divert attention from its economic crisis, China is pursuing a campaign to erase the Tibetan culture, which has even led to concerns from the United Nations (UN), according to sources close to Tibet.
In a letter to the Chinese authorities, the UN recently stated that one million children have been separated from their families and moved forcibly to residential schools. The Chinese foreign ministry called the report “completely unfounded” and said the Tibet region “enjoys social stability, economic development, ethnic unity, religious harmony, and people live and work in peace”.
The state’s dominant concept of ‘nation’ or minzu, the core of China’s current ‘second-generation ethnic policy’ (ronghe), regards all national, ethnic, linguistic and religious groups as secondary and subordinate to the state.
“They have stopped our movement from one part of Tibet to another just to prove their point and control,” said sources, adding, “China has deliberately made the Tibet Autonomous Region to divert world’s attention. Another idea behind dividing Tibet is to divide the strength and population into three regions. We have to seek permission for religious tourism from one region to another, even then we are profiled by the Chinese authorities. They are taking our children away and putting them in residential schools for a very long period of time to brainwash them.”
The programme appears aimed at unwillingly integrating Tibetans into China’s majority Han culture, with compulsory education in Mandarin and no instruction culturally relevant to the Buddhist-majority Himalayan region, the special rapporteurs said.
Sources said protest suicides are being reported from all the three regions, not only Tsang. “We are safe only because of His Holiness. Otherwise, we would have also landed in detention centres like Uighurs,” sources said.
THE UN CONCERNS: ONE MILLION CHILDREN SEPARATED
Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week said the United States would restrict visas to Chinese officials behind the policy of state boarding schools. “These coercive policies seek to eliminate Tibet’s distinct linguistic, cultural and religious traditions among younger generations of Tibetans,” Blinken said in a statement.
“We urge the People’s Republic of China (PRC) authorities to end the coercion of Tibetan children into government-run boarding schools and to cease repressive assimilation policies, both in Tibet and throughout other parts of the PRC,” he said, referring to the People’s Republic of China.
The United States, since 2021, has accused China of waging genocide in another region, Xinjiang, through what US officials, rights groups and witnesses say is a vast network of forced labor camps. China denies the charge.
A separate report this year from UN experts said that hundreds of thousands of Tibetans have also been forced out of traditional rural life into low-skill “vocational training” as a pretext to undermine their identity.