News and Views on Tibet

Two young Tibetans detained over language concerns

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Chinese police talking to Tibetan parents outdoors (Photo/Tibet Watch)

By Choekyi Lhamo

DHARAMSHALA, Sept 10: Two young Tibetans, Yang Ri and Guldak, have reportedly been detained for questioning the change in curriculum from Tibetan to Chinese language following a recent notice by Chinese officials, according to Tibet Watch. The duo had objected to the sudden use of Chinese-language textbooks in Darlak Township in the so called Golog Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. 

“The detainees had only expressed their dissatisfaction with the curriculum with various groups on WeChat,” researcher Gendun Tso told Phayul. The youngsters were arrested on August 24 but an anonymous source in the report also claimed that many other students were equally distressed. 

“If the Chinese government completely transforms the current textbooks into the Chinese language, students [Tibetans] won’t be able to continue in the future. If that is the case, it is better for us to live a nomadic life and look after the livestock [yaks and sheep] in the mountains instead of attending school,” a statement by the students read. A notice had been issued to concerned family members in July directing the children to go to school with textbooks in Chinese. 

The report also stated that there are possibly many other students put in prison for expressing similar concerns against the replacement of their native language. Earlier in July, a Tibetan teacher named Rinchen Kyi from Sengdruk Taktse middle school was also detained after the official closure of her school. 

According to the report, the General Office of the Ministry of Education issued a notice on July 21 clarifying that kindergartens classes in all ethnic and rural areas will be taught in Mandarin Chinese to promote a standardized national language and exercise “high-quality education”.

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