Against the backdrop of the upcoming G20 New Delhi Leader’s Summit scheduled for September 9-10, 2023, a coalition of 143 Tibet-related rights groups, led by advocacy group International Tibet Network and encompassing organizations from various continents representing organizations from Asia, Europe, the Americas, and Africa, have collectively sent letters to G20 leaders, pressing issue concerning China’s activities in Tibet on August 8.
In their letter to the G20 leaders, the coalition urged leaders to take decisive action against the Chinese government’s repression in Tibet. They have expressed their concerns about China’s prolonged occupation of Tibet and its efforts to diminish the distinct identity of Tibetans.
The coalition has highlighted the stark reality of China’s rule in Tibet, emphasizing the existence of an extensive system of colonial boarding schools and preschools that house nearly 1 million Tibetan children. This equates to three out of every four Tibetan students between the ages of 6-18 being separated from their families and residing under state control. The coalition has estimated that at least 100-150,000 children aged 4-5 year-olds in rural areas are compelled to attend boarding preschools, where they are required to sleep away from the care and protection of their parents at least five nights a week.
This situation prompted UN human rights experts to release a statement on February 6, 2023, expressing alarm about the “residential school system for Tibetan children” that appears to be part of a large-scale program aimed at assimilating Tibetans into the majority Han culture, contrary to international human rights standards.
Furthermore, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) in Geneva expressed deep concern about the erosion of the Tibetan language due to a push for a unified curriculum and a national common language policy, resulting in Tibetan being replaced by Chinese as the medium of instruction in schools throughout Tibet, including kindergartens where Tibetan children as young as four to six are sent to boarding schools.
The coalition of Tibet-related rights groups asserts that by forcibly separating Tibetan children from their families and culture and placing them in state-run boarding schools, the Chinese authorities are employing a severe tool of colonization to erode Tibetan identity. They emphasize that while China claims to be providing education to Tibetan children, the reality mirrors the actions of a state attempting to erase their culture, resulting in alienation, loss of identity, and intergenerational trauma.
The coalition calls on G20 leaders to address this attack on Tibetan identity during discussions with Chinese leaders, both in multilateral and bilateral meetings. They further urge the G20 leaders to release a robust joint statement that calls on China to halt the residential boarding school and preschool system in Tibet and to uphold the constitutional and statutory protections for Tibetan language promotion and preservation. Additionally, they call for a denouncement of China’s attempts to eradicate Tibetans’ distinct identity, including their language, culture, history, and way of life.
The coalition states that by acting collectively, G20 governments can exert influence on China’s leadership and protect their democracies from China’s authoritarian influence.