Tag: <span>Dalai Lama</span>

Education in Tibet Appeals

Education in Tibet.

Featured Image: Foto de 和 平 en Unsplash.

17 Feb 2023 –   Three United Nations Human Rights Council Special Rapporteurs have recently highlighted the quality and methods of education of Tibetan students.  Farida Shaheed; Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, Fernand de Varennes, Special Rapporteur on Minortiy Issues, and Alexandra Xanthaki, Special Rapporteur in the field of Cultural Rights; first expressed their concern in a private letter to the U.N. Mission of China in Geneva.

This is the standard procedure of first trying to discuss an issue with the authorities of the State concened.  Therefore, when the reply of the government is non-existent or superficial; then the Special Rapporteurs can “go public” either in their report to the Human Rights Council or with a press release as is the case with Tibetan education.

Farida Shaheed

Farida Shaheed, Pakistani sociologist and women’s rights activist (2016). By Wotancito, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

The 6 February 2023 U.N. Press Release quotes fully the statement sent to the Chinese Mission.  The Special Rapporteurs highlighted the one million Tibetan school children sent far from home to be in residential boarding schools.  The Special Rapporteurs 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…. This  increase in the number of boarding Tibetan students is achieved by the closure of rural schools in areas which tend to be populated by Tibetans and their replacement by township or county-level schools which almost exclusively use Putonghua in teaching and communication.”

Putonghua is the official name for what is usually called “Mandarin Chinese.”

Re-Education.

Recently, there has been more international media and governmental attention given to the repression and “re-education” of the largely Muslim Uighur.  Less attention has been given to policies in Tibet, but from the Chinese government position, the issues are very similar.  In both cases, an ethnic minority is a majority population in a large frontier area. In both cases, the population in question is bound together by a common religion: Islam for the Uighur, the Tibetan Buddhist tradition for the  Tibetans.

The Chinese government is fearful that groups advocating violence will influence the Uighur as there are a good number of such Muslim advocates in Central Asia and the wider Middle East.  The major external influence on the Tibetans is the Dalai Lama, and he has repeatedly stressed non-violence in activities, including  protests of Chinese government policy.  Thus the  government’s greater fears of violence among the Uighur.  Repression has focused  not only on students but on adults as well.

Buddhism in Tibet

Sakya Monastery, Tibet. Sakya Monastery was founded in 1073, by Konchok Gyelpo and is situated about 130 km west of Shigatse on the road to Tingri. By I, Luca Galuzzi, CC BY-SA 2.5 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Crackdown on Buddhism in Tibet?.

The name of the game.

Finding the right balance between maintaining alive a minority culture through education in the minority language and the need for education in the national language is not easy to find.  Education in English has served to develop “American population” in the U.S.A.

The languages of the American Indian tribes has been reduced to folklore.  Finding the right balance for Tibetan students will not be easy to develop even if there were no political issues at stake.  However, politics is “the name of the game.”

Public statement  on the education of Tibetan  students.

The U.N. Human Rights Council has a number of Special Rapporteurs devoted to certain sensitive themes or to specific countries.  These Special Rapporteurs are independent experts selected by the Council. They are not members of the Secretariat and are not paid, but their expenses are covered when in Geneva or on mission. The idea  for the creation of the Special Rapporteurs was to give them as much independence as possible from  pressure of both governments and the U.N. Secretariat.  The U. N. Special Rapporteurs public statement  on the education of Tibetan  students will draw new attention to an issue which merits being closely watched.

René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

 

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

The Uprooted.

Increasing numbers of people in countries around the world, have been forced from their homes, by armed conflicts and systematic violations of human rights. Those who cross internationally recognized borders…

1 2 12
Crackdown on Buddhism in Tibet Appeals

Crackdown on Buddhism in Tibet?.

Sakya Monastery, Tibet. Sakya Monastery was founded in 1073, by Konchok Gyelpo and is situated about 130 km west of Shigatse on the road to Tingri. By I, Luca Galuzzi, CC BY-SA 2.5 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5>, via Wikimedia Commons.

By Rene Wadlow.

There have been periodical periods of repression on religious liberty in Tibet by the Chinese government usually related to broader policies concerning religion on the part of the government.  We may be in such a period now as there is a Muslim element in the repressive policy toward the Uyghurs in Xiaoping and a less obvious Christian element in the repressive policy in Hong Kong;  where Christian churches and Christian-related universities are strong champions of human rights.  It is also possible that recent events in Afghanistan have made some government officials more aware of the religious element in political trends.

The reasons for the crackdown were not articulated by the police authorities who only cited having photos of the Dalai Lama and correspondence with Tibetans living in India and Nepal for the closing of Kharmar Monastery in Gansu Provence in late July and the arrest of over 120 Tibetans including six monks from Dza Wompo Gaden Shedrup Monastery in early September.

The Uyghurs

 Uyghurs praying in East Turkestan. By Preston Rhea, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Crackdown on Buddhism.

Crackdown in religious practice in Tibet has been periodical.  In 1951 Chinese government troops entered Tibet under a “17 Point Agreement” which left Tibet largely autonomous under the Dalai Lama.  However, in March 1959, China imposed the socialist system on Tibet in the name of “democratic reforms”.  The Dalai Lama, fearing that he would be arrested left for India, followed by his entourage of highly trained lamas and later by other Tibetans.  The Tibetans were settled in the Himalaya hill station of Daramsala by the Indian government.

In May 1966, Mao Zedong launched the “Great Cultural Revolution” to “Smash the four olds” (old ideology, old culture, old customs, and old habits).  A large number of monasteries, temples and shrines were destroyed in Tibet.

Again, in March 1989, martial law was declared in Lhasa following three days of riots during which thousands of Tibetans took to the streets to attack Chinese-owned stores and government offices.  There was a crackdown on religious practice as Buddhism and a sense of nationhood remain for most Tibetans common mobilizing symbols despite the decades of Chinese rule.

 

The Dalai Lama

 

The Dalai Lama. By kris krüg, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Middle Way Approach.

At other times, there have been meetings between Chinese officials and representatives of the Dalai Lama such as those of 2002 when the Dalai Lama’s representatives set out a “Middle Way Approach” to secure genuine autonomy for the Tibetan people within the scope of the constitution of the People’s Republic of China.  In a follow up meeting in 2008, a detailed memorandum of “Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People” was presented by the Tibetan representatives. There were meetings in 2010 to clarify concerns and possible misinterpretations of the Memorandum, although there has been no formal follow up since 2010.

Within China itself, there is an increasing interest in Tibetan traditions of Buddhism. There are some 50 institutes specializing in Tibetan studies. The interest is both cultural and spiritual as some Chinese search for a meaning in life.

Thus it is not clear if the recent arrests are the start of a broader crackdown or the actions of local police officials.  From the outside, those of us concerned with safeguarding religious liberty must follow events in China closely.

 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

The Uprooted.

Increasing numbers of people in countries around the world, have been forced from their homes, by armed conflicts and systematic violations of human rights. Those who cross internationally recognized borders…

1 2 12