By Tsering Choephel
DHARAMSALA, 20 Sept: Activists from Student for a Free Tibet (SFT) staged a protest against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), calling for the closure of state-run colonial boarding schools in Tibet as Vice President of China, Han Zheng, attends the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
SFT, a prominent non-governmental organisation advocating for Tibetan freedom, showcased their innovative “Projection Action” in New York City last night.
An illustration portraying a child studying CCP propaganda in a Chinese state-run colonial boarding school was projected onto one side of a tall building. The projection featured changing slogan texts, emphasising the genocidal policy being carried out by the CCP in Tibet.
The protest condemns Chinese Vice President Han Zheng, who was visiting the US to attend the United Nations General Assembly, and China for committing genocide in Tibet.
It called on Beijing to “abolish China’s colonial boarding schools in Tibet and further called on the United Nations to take a stand to put a stop to China’s action.”
“The CCP is here at the UN to spread lies and propaganda about Tibet. But we will make sure that the world knows that the Chinese government ripped one million Tibetan Children from their families,” SFT said.
SFT further added, “We will not allow China to turn the UN into another wing of its transnational propaganda apparatus.”
Dr. Gyal Lo, a Tibetan educational sociologist born in the Traditional Tibetan Province of Amdo, Tibet, has documented extensively the widespread enforcement of CCP’s boarding school system across Tibet and its consequences before he left Tibet and came into exile in December 2020.
In his recent article published in the New York Times, Gyal Lo writes “As the Chinese government continues its 70-year quest to build legitimacy and control over Tibet, it is pivoting increasingly to using education as a battlefield to gain political control. By separating children from their families and familiar surroundings and funnelling them into residential schools where they can become assimilated into Chinese subjects, the state is betting on a future where younger generations of Tibetans will become groomed Chinese Communist Party loyalists, model subjects easy to control and manipulate.”
In these boarding schools spread across all three provinces of traditional Tibet, around one million children between the ages 4 and 18, with at least 100,000 of them around 4 or 5 years old, face the grim fate of losing their Tibetan identity.
Last month, the US announced the imposition of visa restrictions on Chinese officials involved in the “forcible assimilation” policy of Tibetan children in government-run boarding schools.
This mandatory boarding school system is part of the larger ‘sinicisation’ policies the CCP is implementing in all aspects of the Tibetan identity, from culture to language to religious practices.