The world knows about how far Tibet has been suffering under Chinese oppression. After Chinese military took over Tibet in 1949, Tibetans have been treated as second-class citizens in their own country. They are kicked out of their homes and sent to townships so the government can ‘develop’ occupied spaces. Over 6,000 monasteries have been destroyed and those survived are not being used by monks, but ironically, are used as spiritual attractions for mostly Chinese tourists while they screw up Tibetans’ religious freedom. Worst of all, Tibetans do not have freedom of speech, religion or movement. Many passports have been recalled and the borders are closed, trapping Tibetans in the country as their culture and land diminishes.
Meanwhile, a recently launched book called “Eat the Buddha: Life and Death in a Tibetan Town” also explains the tragic history of Tibet under Chinese rule through the stories of people with roots in Ngaba County, the site of the Mei kingdom in the remote reaches of Sichuan province.
The author of the book, journalist Demick, has shared a heartbreaking reported account which includes a survey about the Chinese Communist Party’s grinding. The decades-long repression of Tibetans also includes the odyssey of the daughter of the last ruler of the Mei kingdom, who fled the family’s palace during the 1958 crackdown that eventually forced the Dalai Lama into exile in India. Unfortunately, Chinese atrocities have still not been fully ended.
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China’s Move to Destroy The Cultural Identity of Tibet
Now, to snuff out Tibetan culture, China has switched its last remaining Tibetan-language school to teaching in Chinese language.
Previously in April this year, Chinese gave instruction in Tibetan classrooms in Sichuan’s Ngaba prefecture to deliver lectures exclusively in Chinese language, with the students’ mother tongue to be used only in special classes teaching Tibetan as a language. This issue in Ngaba emerged as a major sore point among Tibetans.
The move comes as schools in the neighboring Tibet Autonomous Region have begun teaching mainly in Chinese in what authorities say is an effort to facilitate participation in China’s modern economy, but what rights groups have called a campaign to destroy the cultural identity of Tibetan schoolchildren. The Tibetan language would still be taught, but only in the language classes. This change has violated provisions of regional laws guaranteeing ethnic rights.
Meanwhile, a March 5, 2020 report by Human Rights Watch details a growing emphasis on Chinese-language schooling in Tibet, calling the trend “an assimilationist policy for minorities that has gained momentum under President Xi Jinping’s leadership.”
What Pertains in Tibet and What Lies Ahead in This Regard?
Language rights have become a particular focus for Tibetan efforts to assert national and cultural identity in recent years. It is India that is playing an important role in aiding the survival of Tibetan culture by funding Tibetan schools for the large numbers of Tibetan exiles it hosts.
If the situation won’t move, then it would be difficult for Tibet to preserve its cultural identity. It is time for other countries to support Tibet along with India to stop the destruction of Tibet’s identity.
It is time to break the silence against Chinese misrule and misconduct.
Prepared by Kashish Rai. Twitter: @KaafyyFilmyy