By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, JAN 14: Tibet’s people’s Congress passed a new law to promote ‘ethnic unity’ in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) on Saturday to take effect from May 1. Tibet Daily’s
report did not release the full text of the regulations but only mentioned that they contained “do’s and don’ts” for the local government and society to promote ‘ethnic unity’, reports South China Morning Post (SCMP)
. Similar rules were introduced in Xinjiang four years ago as officials in Xinjiang cited these regulations as justification for crackdowns on the region’s ethnic Uyghur community.
According to Tibet Daily
, a government mouthpiece, the regulation requires all levels of government, companies, community organisations, villages, schools, military groups, and religious activity centres be responsible for work on ethnic unity. All types of companies are also encouraged “to integrate ethnic unity into the companies’ management and culture, recruiting employees from all ethnic groups”. Under these regulations, September is the month for activities to promote ethnic unity in the region.
Lin Qingzhi, Deputy Secretary of the standing committee of Tibet Legislature, said that the regulations have been designed to “unify the sense of community of the Chinese nation”. Xi Jinping in Aug 2015 addressed a national conference on Tibet where he said that officials must focus on maintaining ethnic unity to promote “sustainable, long term and comprehensive stability of the society.”
Senator Marco Rubio told Catholic News Agency (CNA)
that it was “no surprise that Tibet’s ‘autonomous’ legislature has passed rules to promote ethnic unity . . . As the Chinese Communist Party continues to attempt to wipe out Tibetan culture, the U.S. and freedom loving nations should condemn the blatant violations of human rights.” Sen. Rubio has been one of the most vocal critics of China’s policies and has worked to pass the Tibetan Policy and Support Act (TPSA) in the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Dec 18 and a senate version of the legislation has also been introduced by Sen. Rubio and Sen. Ben Cardin.
The new TAR legislation will push for Tibetans to ‘unify’ with the nation and punish those who overstep these rules. Since the push for “ethnic unity” began in Xinjiang, the Chinese government has opened a network of over 1,200 detention camps that house approximately one million political prisoners who are mostly Uyghur Muslims.
China claims that these camps are for preventing terrorism and for vocational skill training but a leaked manual from the camps has exposed these “re-education” techniques and the ‘ideological education’ given to the detainees. Tibet, like Xinjiang, will face the brunt of the new law as it dictates unity in order to “safeguard national reunification, strengthen ethnic unity and take a clear-cut stand against separatism”.