Dharamsala, Feb 8 – UN experts’ warning about China’s efforts to forcibly assimilate the “vast majority” of Tibetan children by separating them from their families and boarding them at state-run schools underscores the urgent need to resolve the Tibet-China conflict, a Washington-based advocacy group said on Wednesday.
“China’s unconscionable efforts to cut Tibetan children off from their language, religion, culture and families is an existential threat to the survival of Tibetan culture inside Tibet,” said the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) which promotes human rights and democratic freedoms for the Tibetan people.
“The international community must increase pressure on Beijing to return to the negotiating table with the Dalai Lama’s envoys to peacefully settle the decades-long conflict over Tibet while His Holiness can still play an active role in negotiations and before Tibetans’ beautiful culture is erased by China’s government.”
In a statement on February 6, three UN experts — Fernand de Varennes, the Special Rapporteur on minority issues; Farida Shaheed, the Special Rapporteur on the right to education; and Alexandra Xanthaki, the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights — warned that nearly one million Tibetan children have been separated from their families and sent to residential schools, where they are forced to learn in Mandarin Chinese in a curriculum built around Chinese culture.
“As a result, Tibetan children are losing their facility with their native language and the ability to communicate easily with their parents and grandparents in the Tibetan language, which contributes to their assimilation and erosion of their identity,” they said.
The experts expressed their concerns in a letter to the Chinese government on November 11, 2022 and said they remain in contact with Chinese officials.
The experts’ statement this week met with deep concern from Tibetans as well as global leaders, including the Chairwoman of the Human Rights Committee in the German parliament, the US Permanent Representative to the UN Human Rights Council and the chairs of the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China.
China has illegally occupied Tibet for over 60 years, turning it into the least-free country on earth today alongside South Sudan and Syria, according to the watchdog group Freedom House.
The Chinese government held 10 rounds of negotiations with the Dalai Lama’s envoys between 2002-10, but since then, the dialogue process has stalled.