In commemoration of the ‘International Day to Protect Education from Attack’ on Saturday, activist group Students for a Free Tibet-India orchestrated a photo action event. This initiative called on the G20 leaders to take decisive and collective measures in response to the persistent onslaught on the Tibetan children’s education system by the Chinese government, which is seen as a deliberate attempt to erode the distinctive Tibetan identity.
The photo action took place at Dharamshala’s Main Square and served as a powerful visual representation of the challenges faced by young Tibetan children in colonial boarding school systems within Tibet. The event showcased students being subjected to Mandarin as the language of instruction while being indoctrinated by Chinese Communist Party’s ideologies within colonial boarding school environment. The event also highlighted the pressing concern surrounding the Chinese Communist Party’s intention to officially ban the use of the term ‘Tibet’ and replace it with the Chinese name ‘Xizang’ to obliterate Tibetan identity from the global collective consciousness.
Speaking to Phayul, Tenzin Passang, Executive Director of SFT-India emphasised the rationale behind today’s campaign, stating, “We implore the G20 leaders to engage in dialogue with the Chinese leaders regarding the matter of colonial boarding schools in Tibet. The global stage is currently set at the G20 Summit, and our aim is to bring attention to our Tibetan issue, whether it is formally discussed during the meeting or not. Even if the issue remains unaddressed, we want the world to be aware that these grave concerns persist, and that China’s trustworthiness is in question.”
Fellow activist and SFT-India Campaign Director Tenzin Lekdhen speaking about the selection of photo action as the campaign medium, said, “When executed effectively, a photo action can be highly impactful, especially in an era of quick media consumption. Viewers often engage more with images than videos. Images have the power to convey messages swiftly, even though they may not capture every detail. Most often, they are highly effective. A well-crafted photo has the potential to convey a range of messages, even if it may sometimes pose challenges. However, as seen in today’s campaign, impactful photos can make a significant difference.” “Even our Instagram handle also employs this medium, using humour and graphic images. Ultimately, it depends on what resonates most with our audience,” he further added.
In their official press statement, SFT-India issued a resolute and unified declaration expressing deep concern. They called upon the Chinese Communist Party to immediately halt the operation of residential boarding schools and preschool systems in Tibet. Additionally, they urged China to uphold the established constitutional and legal safeguards that protect and promote the Tibetan language. Furthermore, SFT-India vehemently condemned China’s concerted and systematic endeavours aimed at eradicating the unique Tibetan identity. This encompassed condemning China’s actions targeting the Tibetan language, culture, history, and way of life.