The European Parliament adopted a resolution on Thursday, denouncing the enforced assimilation of Tibetan children in Chinese state-run boarding schools in Tibet. This resolution, passed with a majority of 477 votes in favour, 14 against, and 45 abstentions, addresses concerns about the treatment of children in these state-run institutions.
The resolution, titled “Abduction of Tibetan Children and Forced Assimilation Practices through Chinese Boarding Schools in Tibet (2023/3025(RSP)),” references previous resolutions on China and Tibet, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and specific procedural rules within the European Parliament.
Highlighting the oppressive nature of the Chinese Government under Xi Jinping’s leadership, the resolution emphasises the deterioration of human rights in Tibet. It stresses the necessity of prioritising human rights, democracy, and the rule of law in the EU’s dealings with China.
The resolution outlines various concerns regarding Chinese-mandated boarding schools for Tibetan children aged 4 to 18. It also focuses on mandatory education in Mandarin without provisions for the study of Tibetan language, history, or culture. Approximately one million Tibetan children, or 80% of them, have been separated from their families due to this system, aiming to assimilate them culturally, religiously, and linguistically into the Han majority.
Notably, the resolution addresses the distress faced by Tibetan children, including psychological and emotional challenges such as loneliness and isolation, as they lose the ability to communicate easily in their native language with their families. It suggests that this erosion of individual and social identity could potentially violate international human rights and even amount to genocide.
The resolution opposes China’s assimilation policies, particularly the boarding school system in Tibet, aiming to erase unique linguistic, cultural, and religious traditions among Tibetans and other minorities, such as Uyghurs. It demands the immediate abolition of the boarding school system and the end of family separations, highlighted by UN experts in February 2023. Additionally, it urges Chinese authorities to permit private Tibetan schools.
The resolution welcomes the US decision to restrict visas for Chinese officials linked to the Tibetan boarding school system and urges EU Member States and the Council to impose similar targeted sanctions. It calls on Member States and the Vice-President/High Representative to request Chinese Government visas for European diplomats to visit boarding schools in Tibet, allow independent journalists and international observers access to the region, and discourage the dissemination of false information.
Emphasizing the importance of addressing human rights violations in China, particularly in Tibet, the resolution underscores raising this issue in all political and human rights dialogues with Chinese authorities.
Furthermore, it repeats the call for the Chinese Government to engage with representatives of the 14th Dalai Lama to establish genuine autonomy for Tibetans within China. It urges the release of the Panchen Lama and advises against interfering in the designation of the Tibetan spiritual leader.
MEP Salima Yenbou from the Renew group proposed the motion, supported by various political groups, following her participation in a European Parliament delegation’s visit to Dharamshala earlier in the year. The resolution now instructs the President of the European Parliament to transmit it to EU institutions, the United Nations, and the Government and Parliament of the People’s Republic of China.