Human Rights and
International Democratic Solidarity

Statements

International Relations and Human Rights Observatory

03-31-2022

Request about the colonial boarding school system in Tibet

As members of the International Tibet Network, CADAL asked Mr. Santiago Cafiero, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship of the Argentine Republic, to urgently express his serious concern at all levels about the colonial boarding school system administered by the state of China in Tibet and ask the Chinese government to stop the implementation of the colonial boarding school system, and also call on the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the United Nations Special Procedures to have immediate, meaningful and unrestricted access to all areas of Tibet.
 

Chinese government policies are forcing three out of four Tibetan students to leave their homes and enter colonial boarding schools that now house between 800,000 and 900,000 children in Tibet between the ages of six and eighteen, as well as a yet unknown number of children of four and five. Cut off from their families and communities, students must study primarily in Chinese, are prohibited from practicing their religion, and are subject to intense political indoctrination. The schools are the cornerstone of Xi Jinping's campaign to supplant the Tibetan identity with a homogeneous Chinese identity in order to neutralize potential resistance to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime.

Since 2008, when an uprising spread across Tibet, China has been virtually blocking both information and travel. However, the breadth and impact of the colonial boarding school system is now evidenced by first-hand accounts from inside Tibet, statements by Tibetans in exile who are survivors of China's colonial boarding school system, and data collected from official sources and scholars in Tibet, China and abroad. In addition, reports from Tibet indicate that the Chinese authorities use a variety of methods to force parents to send their children to these state institutions, including closing local schools so as not to leave other alternatives for schooling. Those who dare to resist are subject to intimidation and threatened with financial and other punishments. As a result, we now have perhaps the clearest evidence of a massive increase in human rights violations against the Tibetan people that calls for urgent bilateral and multilateral action by interested governments and international institutions.

By intentionally uprooting Tibetan children from their families and culture, by making them live in state boarding schools, the Chinese authorities are using one of the most heinous tools of colonization to attack Tibetan identity. While China claims to be educating Tibetan children, the world knows what it looks like when children are pushed into residential schools run by a state that wants to end their culture, including high levels of alienation, loss of identity, and intergenerational trauma. The Chinese government must be pressured to respect the right of all Tibetan children to receive a high-quality education in their mother tongue without being separated from their families before more irreparable damage is done.

For this reason, CADAL asked Cafiero, the Foreign Minister, to work with other democratic governments in order to exercise bilateral and multilateral actions to:

Urgently express serious concern at all levels about China's state-run colonial boarding school system in Tibet and call on the Chinese government to stop the implementation of the colonial boarding school system;

  • Ask the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the United Nations Special Procedures to have immediate, meaningful and unrestricted access to all areas of Tibet, ensuring that they have access to colonial internees;
  • Call on the Chinese government, and in particular the Standing Committee of the Chinese National People's Congress, to respect and enforce current constitutional and legal protections for the promotion and preservation of the Tibetan language and to condemn any efforts to erode laws that protect the use of minority languages in the educational context;
  • Impose targeted sanctions on Chinese officials, including provincial party secretaries and heads of government agencies that oversee the colonial boarding school system, under the US Global Magnitsky Act, EU Law, the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime and other human rights sanctions regimes in place in Canada, the UK and elsewhere, and review the use of other available punitive measures, especially undertaking them collectively;
  • Provide financial assistance to programs for Tibetans living in exile around the world to promote and preserve the Tibetan language and culture.

CADAL reminded Cafiero that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship of the Argentine Republic states on its website that "values such as freedom, democracy, human rights, solidarity, multiculturalism, freedom of worship, gender equality, among others that today are part of our reality, are reinforced and protected through the international action of the state".

 
 
 

 
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