Hundreds of students join protest
The wave of protest sweeping across Tibet reached Rebkong County National Middle School, Rongwo Town, Rebkong County, in the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Malho (1), Qinghai last weekend.
Around 700 students took part in a large protest for Tibetan language rights. The demonstration began last Sunday (4 March) when students returned to the boarding school after holidays.
The students from grade 1 and 2 (about ten classes) of the senior section were enraged to discover that their new textbooks for politics, history, geography, mathematics, biology, chemistry and physics, which were previously in Tibetan, were now in Chinese. They started ripping the books up and tried to march into the town to call for language rights.
They were stopped by their teachers and headmaster who were fearful that, given the current situation with protests in Tibet, the consequences of protesting, for both the school and the students, would be much more severe than usual.
A former teacher from Tibet said:
“China’s policy to eliminate Tibetan language, in an effort to erode Tibetan identity, is reflective of the daily abuses bringing ordinary Tibetans to protest in increasing numbers. These young students, like a growing number of Tibetans, are using protest to demand change on the issues that matter to them.”
The situation brought the vice-director of the County Education Bureau to the school. Both he and the headmaster explained that the Tibetan textbooks could not be printed on time, so they have to use Chinese textbooks. They said the Tibetan textbooks would be ready by September this year but students feel dubious about what they said.
Students from the school led a similar protest in 2010, which quickly drew support from several thousand young people (2) before spreading across Tibet (3).
Elsewhere, fellow students of Tsering Kyi, who self-immolated and died while on holidays last weekend (5), are being closely monitored. They are currently not allowed to leave the Machu County Middle School in Nyima Town, Ganlho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, and their parents are being denied access to them.
Notes to editors:
1. Chinese: Tongren, Huangnan
4. Chinese: Ni Ma (the capital of Maqu County), Maqu County, Gansu province
6) Free Tibet press releases detailing recent protests: http://freetibet.org/news-media/press-releases
7)Full list of Tibetan self-immolations: http://www.freetibet.org/news-media/na/full-list-self-immolations-tibet
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