News and Views on Tibet

Tibetan youth arrested for complaining against language policy

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Tibetan students at a school in Chamdo in 2020 (Photo/Global Times)

By Tenzin Lekdhen

DHARAMSHALA, Jan. 12: Chinese authorities in Tibet arrested a 23-year-old college graduate who reportedly resisted and complained against China’s language policy, which requires the usage of Chinese as the primary language in Tibetan schools.

Loten, 23, was arrested last year in the county of Golog following a social media post voicing protest against the replacement of textbooks written in Tibetan language with Chinese language textbook in local schools, Radio Free Asia reported citing an anonymous source due to security concerns. “He [Loten] said that China’s policy will eventually disconnect young Tibetans from their own language in the future,” the source informed RFA. 

Loten is reportedly being held in captivity at an unknown location in the provincial capital of Xiling, Qinghai. According to the source, his family have been informed of his arrest over the phone. The family have been told that “Loten is now being given political education.”

Decoding CCP, a website that unpacks jargon and keywords used by the CCP, explains political education and re-education centres as mandatory requirements for non-compliant citizens, often “identified by surveillance technology and algorithms, as likely to be non-compliant in the future, even if none of their behaviour is observably criminal.” These transformations through education practices “consists of endless repetition of official slogans, even when back in one’s cell, enforced by fellow inmates,” the website elaborates. 

Many Tibetan parents, despite their concerns regarding CCP’s language policies, are rendered voiceless by the fear of such arbitrary imprisonment. RFA’s source told them that “they [parents] have no way to do anything about them.” 

Namgyal Choedup, representative of the Office of Tibet in Washington, D.C., in conversation with RFA, said, “It has been evident in recent years that the Chinese government has no plans to ease up on its hard line policies and tight control inside Tibet.” He added that China’s sinicization of Tibetan language and culture undermines and threatens Tibet’s unique tradition, culture, and its values.

Choedup told RFA that they have spoken to the US government and its officials regarding the exacerbation of unfreedom inside Tibet due to such policies. He added that “the policies implemented inside Tibet by the Chinese government do more harm than benefit in reality for the Tibetans.”

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