Tag: <span>Islam</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.”


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.


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Sudan Appeals

Sudan: Difficult Transitions.

Photo by Mohamed Tohami on Unsplash.

By Rene Wadlow.

With the death on 26 November 2020 of Sadeq Al-Mahdi;  a major figure of modern Sudanese politics;  leaves the scene at a time of deep transitions within Sudan. Sadeq was the great grandson of Mehammed Ahmed;  who in the 1880s proclaimed himself as the Madhi in the struggle against the Egyptians and the British. When impiety progresses;  God inspires the Mahdi, the Messiah, to establish justice. Thus;  the Mahdi is both a political as well as a spiritual leader.


Sadig never declared himself to be the Mahdi;  but the family had taken Al-Madhi as the family name. He was a political leader having been Prime Minister twice, 1966 -1967 and again 1986 -1989;  both times forced out by the military;  who set up long-lasting military dictatorships; the first time by General Jaafar Nimeiry;  and the second time by General Omar Al-Bachir.

The Sufi Order.

Sadig was the head of an important Sufi order;  a tariqa as Sufi orders are called in Sudan. His political base was the Sufi order. He was educated at Oxford University in England;  and had high hope to modernize Sudan. Yet both times that he was prime minister;  he became bogged down in socio-economic tensions that would lead shortly afterwards to war. The first time;  the tensions and war which led to the creation of the separate state of South Sudan;  the second time the continuing North-South split of the country;  and the tensions which led to the armed conflict in Darfur province. In both cases;  the military were able to present themselves as more able to deal with conflicts than a civilian.

I had Sadeq Al-Mahdi as a member of the Association of World Citizens team to attend a seminar at the United Nations in Geneva;  on human rights and Islam. We had discussed at length his experiences and the nature of Mahdist movements.

The Ironies of Sudanese Politics.

One of the ironies of Sudanese politics was that his chief opponent;  the ideological brain of the Al-Bachir National Islamic Front, Hassan Al-Turabi was his brother-in-law, the men having married two sisters of the same family. While Sadeg was a Sufi highlighting; a personal relationship to God with no emphasis on the Islamic legal code or the Koran;  Hassan Al-Turabi, influenced by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood;  stressed the legal code and promoted the idea of a pan-Islamic brotherhood based on a common understanding of the legal code.

Today;  Sudan is in a period of transition. The South has become a separate country with a good number of difficulties. A good number of issues;  including oil revenues;  need to be worked out between Sudan and South Sudan. The war in Darfur continues;  but negotiations are very difficult as opposition groups have split along tribal and ideological lines. The new Sudanese government is an uneasy coalition of military and civilian members of trade unions and professional societies. It is not clear what role Sufi orders;  which are mostly rural, will play. It is also not clear to what extent new political parties will be formed based on the civil society forces;  which were largely outside the earlier political parties. Sudan remains a country in transition; to be watched 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…

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