By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, Dec. 2: Tibetan scholar and activist Dr. Gyal Lo in an interview in Luxembourg said that the anti-lockdown protests in Tibet and China are an opportunity to put Tibet and other minority groups into focus and discuss how the government policies have been eroding their rights for decades. The scholar said that given the crucial timing, Western and European countries must show more solidarity to pressure China on its human rights record, against the backdrop of EU Council President Charles Michel meeting the Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday in Beijing.
“They’ve increased the fire. If we don’t increase pressure on China, the game is going to be over,” the Professor said of the ongoing protests. The educationist turned activist,Dr. Gyal Lo was one of the primary sources to the Tibet Action Institute report that said over 80,000 children have been forced to attend boarding schools, barred from a Tibetan language education. An eye-witness to the effects of the repressive school system, he fled China in December 2020 and has taken refuge in Canada since.
After his talk at Luxembourg in cooperation with the Amis du Tibet association, the Chinese embassy in the European country said in a statement that the claims hold no truth, “In old Tibet there was not a single proper school. The illiteracy rate exceeded 95%.” But Dr. Gyal Lo said that it is a “complete lie”, adding that minority groups like Uyghurs and Mongolians face similar hardships as Tibetans. Thousands of protestors were arrested after the locals expressed disagreement with the bilingual policy introduced in September 2020. The advocacy group Southern Mongolian human rights centre said that at least nine Mongolians lost their lives in the violent crackdown by the authorities on demonstrations.
“The Chinese people and minority people are facing the same challenge, the same dictatorship, but in different ways. Chinese people need to stand up to turn upside down the party in China,” the language activist further said urging the European countries to question China on every front. “Take action to stand on the right side,” he further noted, adding that short-term economic benefit cannot be the only prerogative.