Sucked Our Marrow: Tibetan Language and Education Rights under Xi Jinping

The 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 a launch event held at the Tibet Museum in Dharamshala.

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.

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.

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.

TCHRD 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.

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.

This situation is aggravated by the criminalization of peaceful dissent and an absolute lack of domestic judicial recourse against state excesses.

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.

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.

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.

TCHRD is the first non-governmental Tibetan human rights organization established in India in 1996. We monitor, document, and conduct research on the human rights situation in Tibet and provide reliable information to the international community.

Asian Dignity Initiative (ADI), founded in 2016, is a non-governmental organization from 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.

Download the full report here.

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