Tibet Watch has learned of the arrest of a Tibetan man in eastern Tibet in November 2021 in connection with posts he made on the messaging app WeChat.
Palsang, a 24-year-old man from Golog Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture who works for his family’s business in Darlak County, allegedly posted a text message supporting the Tibetan language in a chat group on WeChat.
Palsang was arrested in the middle of the night, shortly after posting the message. He was initially kept in police custody in Darlak County for 15 days and was then taken to Xining City. His family have been given no information about his whereabouts and condition.
WeChat is the most popular social media app in China, but is heavily censored and monitored for content deemed “sensitive” by Chinese authorities. Due to this tight online surveillance, many Tibetans have already been arrested for expressing their concerns regarding China’s occupation of Tibet and its tightening restrictions on aspects of Tibetan life including its language.
Targeting of ‘minority’ languages
The restrictions on the Tibetan language are being imposed despite Article 4 of the Chinese Constitution stating that “[a]ll ethnic groups shall have the freedom to use and develop their own spoken and written languages and to preserve or reform their own traditions and customs.” They include the publication of a notice by the Ministry of Education of China in July 2021 that stated that from the 2021 autumn semester, all kindergartens in “minority areas” that were not already doing so would be required to use the national standard language for childcare activities. Soon after the announcement, the renowned Sengdruk Taktse Middle School was forcibly shut down without any official clarification. Rinchen Kyi, one of its longest-serving teachers, was arrested in August.
On 20 January 2022, the Director of the Legal Affairs Committee of the National People’s Congress, Shen Chungyao, announced that schools in “minority areas” were no longer allowed to teach their own languages, declaring such education to be ‘unconstitutional’. It was issued days before the release from prison of Tibetan language rights advocate Tashi Wangchuk.
Tibet Watch has previously reported on the arrest of Loten, whose arrest took place shortly after that of Palsang on 12 December 2021. He was arrested by Chinese officials in Matoe County after he posted a message online expressing disagreement with the policy of sinicization of the education system in Golog Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.
Information supplied by Tibet Watch