HomeOppression and Human RightsChina Sends a Million Tibetan Children to Boarding Schools - 'Forced Assimilation'

China Sends a Million Tibetan Children to Boarding Schools – ‘Forced Assimilation’

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China’s quest for dominance isn’t merely reflected in its vast skyscrapers, sprawling cities, or technological prowess. Beneath these towering achievements lies a darker, insidious campaign against one of the world’s oldest civilizations: the Tibetans. At the forefront of this campaign are Tibet’s children, who are being torn from their homes, culture, and traditions and immersed in an education system designed to erase their Tibetan identities.

The United States, led by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, has taken a stand by imposing visa sanctions on Chinese officials behind what can only be described as a ‘forced assimilation’ program in Tibet. These actions come in response to reports that around one million Tibetan children are being separated from their families and sent to state-run boarding schools. Here, they’re taught in Mandarin, denied culturally relevant education, and subjected to an aggressive curriculum that promotes the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its values.

The world might wonder, why would China target innocent children? The answer lies in the age-old tactic of shaping the future through the youth. By immersing Tibetan children in Chinese culture from a tender age, the government hopes to breed a generation of loyalists, distant from their Tibetan heritage and more aligned with the Communist Party’s ideals.

Stories like those of Tashi Wangchuk, a language advocate, are harrowing reminders of the lengths to which Beijing will go to suppress any form of Tibetan identity. Tashi was imprisoned for advocating the teaching of the Tibetan language in schools. Upon his release, he continued his advocacy only to be attacked in a hotel by masked men. This incident is not isolated but represents the broader climate of fear and repression Tibetans face daily.

While China’s government claims that these educational policies aim to provide a better future for Tibet’s youth, first-hand accounts tell a drastically different story. Dr. Gyal Lo, a Tibetan activist based in Canada, shares a heart-wrenching account of his young relatives enrolled in one such boarding school. These children, once lively and vibrant, have transformed into strangers within their own family. Their affinity to Tibetan food, language, and traditions diminished after a mere three months at school.

Dr. Lo’s research, spanning three Tibetan prefectures, paints a bleak picture. He discovered that young Tibetan children were losing touch with their native tongue. Surveillance in these schools is stifling, with security cameras even in classrooms. The aim is clear: ensure conformity and suppress any semblance of Tibetan culture.

The devastating impact of these policies reaches beyond the classroom. Parents and families left behind grapple with the absence of their young ones. The pain is so palpable that some mothers undertook a 1,200-kilometer pilgrimage to seek solace. Others, recognizing the stark divide between them and the Chinese officials, lament the gradual fading of their language and culture.

This isn’t China’s first foray into assimilation efforts. The Cultural Revolution saw the prohibition of Tibetan teachings in schools. Over the decades, China’s strategy has been consistent – to integrate Tibetans into the majority Han culture and erase any lingering threads of their distinct identity.

Perhaps international attention and pressure might cause Beijing to reevaluate its policies, but China is committing so many offenses that no international effort will likely be enough. The rest of the world has too much else to worry about. For the sake of future Tibetan generations and the rich cultural heritage at stake, their story is not merely one of lost childhoods but the potential loss of an entire civilization’s essence.

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/09/15/opinion/china-tibet-boarding-school.html

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/aug/23/china-forced-assimilation-tibet-us-sanctions-visa

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