Dharamshala — “The so-called bilingual education policy, ostensibly promoted to unite non-Chinese nationalities throughout the PRC, drastically limits the use of Tibetan language in the education system, both secular and monastic, and directly impacts the survival of Tibetan linguistic and cultural identity,” says a report titled, “Sucked Our Marrow: Tibetan Language and Education Rights under Xi Jinping”.
Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) and Asian Dignity Initiative (ADI) released a joint report, "Sucked Our Marrow: Tibetan Language and Education Rights under Xi Jinping", at Tibet Museum in Dharamshala, H.P, India, on May 11, 2022.
The report launch was organised by the Tibet Museum as part of the Tibet Awareness Talk Series. Tsering Norbu, the Program Coordinator of the Tibet Museum, gave a welcoming speech at the launch of the report, followed by a brief introduction of the report by Tsering Tsomo, Director of TCHRD, and a brief virtual commentary by Kinam Kim, Director of ADI, and the findings of the report by Nyima Woeser, the researcher at TCHRD.
“The report reveals how a decade of Xi Jinping at the helm, executing a forced cultural assimilation policy under the guise of 'ethnic policy in the new era,' has devastating consequences on education and language rights in Tibet,” Tsering Tsomo said.
“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,” said Nyima Woeser.
“In recent years, non-governmental initiatives to promote the Tibetan language and culture in Tibet have increasingly come under attack. 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 director said.
“The right to education is recognized as a fundamental human right indispensable for realizing other human rights. 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 zhonghua minzu identity with a single language and identification with the Chinese nation-state,” they added.
“The "Second Generation Ethnic Policy' is designed to reverse seven decades of granting autonomous powers to minority nationalities （少数民族 shaoshu minzu) in self-governance, at least in theory as is evident in the Regional National Autonomy Law and related provisions in the Chinese Constitution. The Chinese party-state is now aggressively pursuing the concept of Chinese national (中華民族 zhonghua minzu), introduced in the Chinese Constitution in 2018 as a tool to forcibly assimilate minority nationalities into the larger Han Chinese population of 1.2 billion,” the report stated.
“Chinese policies and campaigns implemented since 2012 have systematically undermined and marginalised native languages and cultures of minority nationalities. The so-called bilingual education policy, ostensibly promoted to unite non-Chinese nationalities throughout the PRC, drastically limits the use of Tibetan language in the education system, both secular and monastic, and directly impacts the survival of Tibetan linguistic and cultural identity,” said Tenzin Dawa, the Senior Programme Officer at TCHRD.
“A forced cultural assimilation policy is being carried out in the garb of 'ethnic policy in the new era' with devastating consequences on education and language rights in Tibet. Children and young people have become primary targets under Xi Jinping's campaign to build a 'modern' education system in which Putonghua (Mandarin Chinese based on Beijing dialect) enjoys a higher status and power than minority languages, thus violating constitutional guarantees for regional autonomy and the principle of equality and non-discrimination,” the report stated.
“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,” they urged.
“China must issue a standing invitation to UN independent experts to conduct official visits in Tibet and other parts of the PRC,” they demanded.
“Accountability must be demanded from the PRC for its human rights violations. 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,” the organisations stated.
“China must 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,” concluded.