News and Views on Tibet

Rights group demands Xi Jinping to end ‘cultural assimilation policy’ in open letter

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A student listens attentively at a public boarding school in Lhasa (Photo/AP)

By Choekyi Lhamo

DHARAMSHALA, June 2: Dharamshala based rights group, Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) sent an open letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday, demanding an immediate end to the forced assimilation policy implemented inside Tibet. The research group asked the Beijing administration to comply with the Chinese constitution which in turn affirms that the “state makes every effort to promote the prosperity of all ethnic groups” especially regarding one’s own education, language and religion.

The letter cited ‘Second Generation Ethnic Policy’ among many others that negate the provisions given in the constitution, in stark contrast with Article 4 of the Constitution which says, “All nationalities have the freedom to use and develop their own spoken and written languages and to preserve or reform their own folkways and customs”; Article 10 on Regional National Autonomy which states that autonomous areas, such as Tibetan Autonomous Region and Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, shall be guaranteed freedom “to use and develop their own spoken and written languages and freedom to persevere or reform their own folkways and customs.”

From the findings in their latest report “Tibetan language and education rights under Xi Jinping”, TCHRD said that it “bemoans the closure of Tibetan private and semi-private schools like Sengdruk Taktse middle school in Golog” and the continuous acceleration of Chinese language education across Tibet. With the implementation of the said ethnic policy, the group expressed grave concerns over the rapid closure of private and semi-private Tibetan schools.

The letter cited the example of teacher Rinchen Kyi who was arrested after being accused of “inciting separatism” when she refused to eat food due to the closure of her school. Rinchen was abruptly released after she spent nine-month detention in Chinese prison; her current medical condition still remains unknown.

“We urge you to truly live up to your lofty vision of achieving the ‘Chinese Dream in the new era’ by making respect for human rights a precondition for all policy and legal measures implemented in Tibet,” the letter addressed to the Chinese premier said, concluding with multiple recommendations as to how the government can guarantee better freedom of education.

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