A press statement issued by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UN) on 6 February in Geneva made the shocking revelation that the Chinese government is running a chain of residential schools in which approximately a million Tibetan children are forcibly lodged in order to erase their Tibetan cultural identity and brainwash them into Chinese Han culture.
The three experts Fernand de Varennes, Farida Shaheed and Alexandra Xanthaki who are respectively Special UN Rapporteurs for minority issues, right to education and cultural rights, said in their joint statement, “We are very disturbed that in recent years the residential school system for Tibetan children appears to act as a mandatory large-scale programme intended to assimilate Tibetans into majority Han culture, contrary to international human rights standards.”
In their study, they discovered that Tibetan children, forcibly taken away from their families are lodged permanently into specially established schools across the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) as well as in other parts of original Tibet which are now part of adjoining Chinese provinces.
Education in the Tibetan language has been banned throughout Tibet, as has been repeatedly claimed by various Tibetan groups, including the Central Tibetan Administration, which was established by Tibet’s deposed and exiled ruler, the Dalai Lama, and the education medium has been changed exclusively to Mandarin Chinese. Several community schools founded by Tibetan volunteers to teach Tibetan language have been closed, demolished, and the teachers have been imprisoned.
Children in newly established special schools run by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) are not allowed to see their families and are penalized for conversing in Tibetan.
Commenting on this statement of UNHRC experts, GonpoDhundup, President of the Tibetan Youth Congress said, “President Xi Jinping has not only closed Tibetan language schools across Tibet but his government has started a new movement of snatching away Tibetan children as young as four and five years from their parents and pushing them into residential Chinese language schools. In the name of education, these little kids are being subjected to communist brainwashing and loyalty to the CCP.
It is worth noting that the drive to transform Tibetan youngsters into “patriotic Chinese citizens” has gained traction in the aftermath of President Xi’s surprise visit to Tibet in July 2021.
On his visit to Lhasa, President Xi addressed a special assembly of CCP cadres and Chinese administrators of Tibet, urging them to struggle for the establishment of Tibetan Buddhism with Chinese Socialist Character.
The UNHRC Rapporteurs’ statement pointed to directions published by China’s Central Conference on Ethnic Issues in August 2021, shortly after Xi’s above-mentioned call in Tibet.
According to this statement, the Conference had asked all ethnic groups of China to ensure that the “interests” of the Chinese nation were above all else. China’s ongoing campaign of confining millions of Uygur Muslims of Xinjiang into a vast range of concentration camps across the occupied region is also aimed at eliminating Islam from the minds of the population in order to mould them into a uniform Chinese socialist identity.
Interestingly, almost all Islamic countries including Qatar, Pakistan and Indonesia have been voting every time to protect China from the scrutiny of its actions against the Muslim population of Xinjiang.