DHARAMSALA, 11 May: Detailing how a decade of Xi Jinping at the helm forced cultural assimilation policy under the guise of “ethnic policy in the new era,” and its “devastating consequences on education and language rights in Tibet,” the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) and Asian Dignity Initiative (ADI) today jointly released a report titled, “Sucked Our Marrow: Tibetan Language and Education Rights under Xi Jinping”.
“Children and young people have become primary targets in Xi Jinping’s campaign to build an education system that violates constitutional guarantees for regional autonomy and the principle of equality and non-discrimination. The new system gives Putonghua – Mandarin Chinese based on the Beijing dialect – higher status and power over minority languages,” TCHRD said in its press release.
Ms Tsering Tsomo, executive director of TCHRD said that China’s repressive policies intensified from 2016 to 2017 and added that lately,
“non-governmental initiatives to promote the Tibetan language and culture in Tibet have increasingly come under attack” with the closure of Private educational institutions, including those previously approved by the party-state, are being closed down, and monastic institutions are being forced to prioritize Putonghua teaching and propagation.”
The Dharamsala-based rights group further said in its thematic report that the group “is deeply concerned over the speed at which the private schools are being closed and Putonghua national curriculum imposed as it amounts to an attack on the cultural ecosystem that serves as the last bastion of Tibetan cultural heritage in the seven decades of Chinese occupation.”
Highlighting that “the right to education is recognized as a fundamental human right indispensable for realizing other human rights,” the TCHRD added that “It is guaranteed in numerous international treaties and conventions. However, it is increasingly evident that Chinese laws and policies cannot protect the right to use minority languages because they are part of a broader nation building strategy geared towards creating a zhonghuaminzui dentity with a single language and identification with the Chinese nation-state.”
TCHRD noted that the “criminalization of peaceful dissent and an absolute lack of domestic judicial recourse against state excesses” has aggravated the situation.
“The international community must request a visit by the UN human rights experts on education and language rights to assess the quality and availability of Tibetan language teaching and use within Tibet. China must issue a standing invitation to UN independent experts to conduct official visits in Tibet and other parts of the PRC,”
Explaining the title of the report that read “Sucked Our Marrow: Tibetan Language and Education Rights under Xi Jinping” the TCHRD director said it was taken from a WeChat post of a Tibetan private school in Sept. 2021.
Expressing concern over the inclusion of CCP propaganda in Tibetan language textbooks issued since 2021, the Tibetan teacher has written, “The saying, ‘Darkness dimmed our sight through the window, vultures guarding the funeral ground sucked our bine marrow,’ sounds so true.”
Urging the world to hold China accountable, the group said “a clear step the international community can take in this direction is by not supporting PRC-sponsored resolutions at the UN and other multilateral platforms.”
TCHRD further called on China to “guarantee the right to self-determination and create concrete conditions to enable Tibetans to exercise genuine autonomy as provided for in the PRC’s Constitution and Law on Regional National Autonomy.”
Mr Kinam Kim, the Director of ADI, who joined the event online said that “Education is both a basic human right and an indispensable means to realize other human rights.”
Declaring language a central to human nature and culture, and essential for expressing one’s identity as the then UN Independent Expert (now Special Rapporteur) on minority issues put in 2013, he added that “the systematic closure and demolition of schools but also the violations of the rights of teachers and students merely for speaking out against the official policy. It is obvious that unless we speak out, such gross human rights violations will continue with impunity.”
TCHRD has partnered with ADI in 2021 for better and improved human rights documentation and advocacy practices. ADI is a non-governmental organization based in the Republic of Korea, dedicated to defending the human rights of marginalized people in Asia.
ADI investigates and documents human rights violations in the Asian region and builds networks to empower civil society.