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Home Editorials of Interest Taipei Times The forced assimilation of Tibet

The forced assimilation of Tibet

The situation in Tibet is complex and sensitive, with reports saying the Chinese government is attempting to assimilate Tibetan culture into the Han culture.

China’s approach to education in Tibet has raised significant concerns regarding the forced assimilation of Tibetan children. About 1 million have reportedly been separated from their families and placed into government-run boarding schools.

The educational content of the schools revolve around the Han culture, with Mandarin as the medium of instruction. The system is seen as a large-scale program intended to assimilate Tibetans into Han culture.

The focus on Mandarin and Han cultural norms has resulted in Tibetan children losing proficiency in their native language and, consequently, the ability to communicate effectively with their elders, contributing to the erosion of their Tibetan identity.

The increase in boarding students is partly due to the closure of rural schools, which have been replaced by township or county-level institutions which primarily use Mandarin for teaching and communication, often requiring children to board.

The measures are part of what some experts describe as a policy of forced assimilation, which runs contrary to international human rights standards for education, linguistic and cultural rights, and freedom of religion or belief.

China’s constitution states that citizens “enjoy freedom of religious belief,” but limits protections to “normal religious activities” without defining what “normal” is. Regulations stipulate religious activity must not harm national security and control all aspects of Tibetan Buddhism.

The Chinese Communist Party promotes “Sinicization” policies which aim to interpret religious ideas in accordance with its ideologies, and emphasize loyalty to the party and the state.

There have been reports of disappearances, arrests, torture, physical abuse and prolonged det

entions without trials due to their religious practices. People have also reportedly died in custody or as a result of long-term illnesses and injuries sustained following beatings and mistreatment during incarceration.

The government has undertaken a large-scale campaign of “re-education” or “vocational training” in military-style camps to conduct forced political indoctrination, and to transform farmers and herders into laborers in other industries.

Authorities have also arrested writers, singers and artists for promoting Tibetan language and culture. Supporters of the Dalai Lama and other religious leaders could be arrested under China’s anti-organized crime program.

These are challenges faced by Tibetans practicing their religion and maintaining their cultural identity. They reflect concerns raised by human rights organizations and independent experts regarding the preservation of Tibetan culture and identity.

 

Khedroob Thondup is a former member of the Tibetan parliament in exile.


Source: Taipei Times - Editorials 2024/06/18



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Photo courtesy of Central Epidemic Command Center via CNA

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