By Phuntsok Yangchen
DHARAMSHALA, October 30: The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) yesterday decided to terminate all its deal with Chinese Government funded Confucius Institutes following a series of protests by Tibetans in Toronto.
Twenty out of twenty-two Trustees had voted to terminate the deal with Confucius institute at a meeting yesterday. Hundreds of Tibetan protesters gathered outside the TDSB’s headquarters ahead of meeting demonstrating against the program.
Students for a Free Tibet, one of the organizations actively campaigning against Confucius Institute has called this move a “success for academic freedom, freedom of expression and for Tibet and other sensitive issues by the campaigners.”
Urgyen Badheytsang, National Director of Students for a Free Tibet-Canada said, “Tonight the wolf in sheep’s clothing was exposed. The Chinese government’s secret mission to use Confucius Institutes to shut down free discussions on Tibet and human rights in our schools has received the final seal of rejection. As a Tibetan and an alumni of the Toronto school system, I thank the Trustees for standing up for our students, academic freedom, and denying China’s undemocratic, authoritarian government a place in our classrooms.”
Last year, The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) passed a resolution to end all ties with Confucius Institutes. McMaster University in Ontario shut down their Confucius Institute for concerns about possible human rights violations and discriminatory hiring practices.
“Toronto is championing the rejection of Chinese government propaganda and censorship on Tibet and other sensitive issues by expelling the Confucius Institute from our schools today. Allowing the Confucius Institute into our classrooms would have meant allowing China’s undemocratic government to influence the education of our youth. We’re here as Tibetans, Chinese, members of religious communities, human rights advocates and concerned parents, and we are relieved that the Chinese government will not have any influence in our schools anymore,” said Tashi Nangsetsang, a concerned Tibetan parent from Toronto.
There are eight Confucius Institutes in Canada and over 300 worldwide. Though the Chinese government claimed the institutes simply promoted Chinese language and culture the Canadian Security Intelligence Service said they’re part of China’s efforts to extend its “soft power” abroad.