China Focus Tibet

Press release from UN experts: Alarming forced assimilation and separation of 1 million Tibetan children in Tibet by China

A group of three independent UN experts, in a press release published on February 06, 2023, strongly condemned China for "forcibly separating over a million Tibetan children from their families" and assimilating Tibetan culture in colonial-style boarding schools. The UN experts recently published their memo to the Chinese government, expressing their serious concerns about the situation.

The press release UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues Fernand de Varennes, Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education Farida Shaheed and Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights Alexandra Xanthaki jointly expressed their concern about Chinese policies aimed at "the Tibetans culturally, religiously and linguistically assimilated through a boarding school system». The experts warned that about a million Tibetan children would be affected by this policy.

The experts said they were "concerned" that "the boarding school system for Tibetan children in recent years appears to be functioning as a mandatory large-scale program aimed at assimilation of Tibetans to the Han majority culture, which contrary to international human rights standards".

The UN experts described the mandatory Mandarin curriculum without any access to Tibetan language, history and culture in the Chinese-run boarding schools for Tibetan children, stating that as a result, Tibetan children lose the ability to speak their mother tongue and communicate with their parents and Communicating with grandparents in the Tibetan language, which contributes to their assimilation and the erosion of their identity.

The experts also stressed that the proportion of boarding schools in Tibet is "much higher" compared to other parts of Chinese territories and has been increasing in recent years. The forced closure of rural schools in Tibetan-populated areas and their replacement by city- or state-level schools that teach and communicate exclusively in Chinese has further increased the proportion of boarding schools in Tibet, according to the UN experts.

The experts expressed concern about China's policy of "forced assimilation" of Tibetan cultural identity to the "dominant Han Chinese majority through a series of repressive measures against Tibetan educational, religious and language institutions." In addition, China pointed to the relentless persecution of Tibetan individuals who advocate for Tibetan language and education. The UN experts said they are in contact with the Chinese authorities to clarify the above issues, which were also raised in their November 2022 memo to China.

Representative of HH Dalai Lama from the Geneva Tibet Office, Thinlay Chukki, stated: «This is one of the first press releases from the UN experts on Tibet detailing the egregious human rights abuses in Tibet and we hope that many more will follow before especially given the catastrophic situation in Tibet, which remains the least free region in the world. The experts noted that while there are many boarding schools in other parts of China, the number in Tibet is much higher. This indicates China's concerted and systematic efforts to destroy the Tibetan language, culture and religion. We call on the experts in their talks with China to press for these so-called boarding schools to be closed and provide detailed reports on them."

Read the English report from the Tibet Office in Geneva here . (Featured photo by Radio Free Asia)

Here you will find the media release of the UN Human Rights Commission.

pdf in english

pdf in french

Here see the post on UN News.

Message from the UN experts to Wang Yi here.

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  1. Sylvia Baumann

    What happened there is unbelievable! The Chinese government's arrogance in oppressing all minorities in its "empire" and eradicating their culture must be stopped by all means. In my opinion, this is just plain devilish.

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