The Chinese Communist Party has a terrifying plan for Tibet's children: close to one million Tibetans between four and 18 years old are being made to live in colonial boarding schools. There they are cut off from their homes, their families, their language, and their way of life. At the same time, Tibetan-language schools are being closed and demolished.
The policies are aimed at reengineering Tibetan society and have already had a devastating impact. In the words of Dr Gyal Lo, a leading expert on these schools: “The Chinese government is tearing families apart and forcing these vulnerable children to become strangers to their own Tibetan culture.”
We need to stop this. The G7 group of governments is due to meet in November. We need to get these boarding schools on their agenda and urge them to demand that China shut them down.
We are writing to you as leaders of the G7 to urge you to take firm joint action concerning the Chinese government’s relentless colonisation of Tibet and attempts to eradicate Tibetans’ distinct identity.
Occupied for over seven decades, China’s rule in Tibet is one of the last remnants of 20th-century colonialism. This is epitomised by a vast and alarming system of colonial boarding schools and preschools housing close to 1,000,000 Tibetan children.
These children are separated from their families and communities, often through coercive measures. As a result, they are prevented from learning their mother tongue and must study a curriculum imposed by the occupying Chinese government. At the same time, scores of Tibetan-language schools have been shut down across Tibet with Tibetan teachers and language advocates arrested for simply teaching in Tibetan.
These policies aim to re-engineer Tibetan society and eliminate resistance to Chinese rule by ensuring that the next generation of Tibetans cannot speak their own language and are cut off from their culture and way of life. This effort, and in particular the system of colonial boarding schools, has already had a devastating impact on Tibetan families, causing extreme emotional and psychological distress to Tibetan children.
Given the gravity of this situation, we call on you to release a statement which:
- Publicly denounces China’s attempts to eradicate Tibetans’ distinct identity, including their language, culture, history, and way of life.
- Urges the Chinese government to halt the residential boarding school and preschool system and the closure of Tibetan-language schools.
We are looking forward to your action on this urgent matter.