UN experts alarmed at ‘forced assimilation’ of around million children in Tibet

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Around a million Tibetan children have been separated from their families and put through “forced assimilation” at Chinese residential schools, three United Nations experts said on Monday.

The special rapporteurs voiced their alarm at Chinese government policies aimed at assimilating Tibetan people culturally, religiously, and linguistically through the schools system, raising concerns about a reported increase in the number of such schools.

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“We are very disturbed that in recent years the residential school system for Tibetan children appears to act as a mandatory large-scale program intended to assimilate Tibetans into majority Han culture, contrary to international human rights standards,” the experts said in a joint statement.

The special rapporteurs on minority issues, education, and cultural rights said that in these schools, the educational content is built around Han culture, with Tibetans denied access to “traditional or culturally relevant learning.”

“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,” the experts said.

UN special rapporteurs are unpaid independent experts mandated by the UN Human Rights Council. They do not speak on behalf of the United Nations.

The experts said their information pointed to the “vast majority” of Tibetan children being put through residential schools.

“We are alarmed by what appears to be a policy of forced assimilation of the Tibetan identity into the dominant Han-Chinese ma-jority, through a series of oppressive actions against Tibetan educational, religious and linguistic institutions,” they said.

In the interest of building a socialist state based on a single Chinese identity, “initiatives to promote Tibetan language and culture are reportedly being suppressed, and individuals advocating for Tibetan language and education are persecuted,” the special rap-porteurs said.

Tibet has alternated over the centuries between independence and control by China, which says it “peacefully liberated” the rugged plateau in 1951 and brought infrastructure and education to the previously underdeveloped region.

But many exiled Tibetans accuse China’s ruling Communist Party of repression, torture, and eroding their culture.

Read more: China slams US sanctions over alleged human rights abuses in Tibet

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