“Everyone wants the best for their children”

On World Children's Day, Younten, a parent from the Tibetan community, writes about how China's residential schools programme risks breaking family bonds

In our belief, birth is considered suffering just as death and it is not cynicism but way of life. In Buddhism we strive to escape from the cycle of life and compassion as a mean, and the seed of compassion sown by our beloved parents.

Our parents taught us not to harm any living beings as they could have been our parents or children in your previous lives. We build relationship with every living creature and treat them with compassion (སྙིང་རྗེ།) – that is basic Buddhist ideology that promotes kindness.

The first lesson we learn is from our parents and I believe the bond between parent and children are the foundation of our society. Would you accept if I dare to say that there is no greater force that could defeat the family bond? Or you think Chinese policies are actually greater force? Here is the excerpt from UN website: “Roughly one million Tibetan Minority children in China have been separated from their families and placed into Government run boarding schools, forcing their assimilation into the dominant culture” … Now I can’t stress enough that China in 1992 agreed to the UNCRC (United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child) – this basically means, all children in China should have their rights respected.

I don’t want to copy and paste every article in UNCRC and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, although it is crucial and wouldn’t hurt if you read it once. What I want to remind you is that China has the veto power and currently president of the UN Security Council, even though it is a universally accepted fact that China then and now continuous to violate human rights. 

As a parent I wouldn’t want my children to live like this and I highly doubt any parent would. My life started when my parents escaped Tibet in 1960s and they also have thrilling and fascinating escape stories. Anyway, I always look up to them and I feel fortunate to be with them but my brethren in Tibet don’t have that luxury.

Students at Yiri Ecological Forest School in Chamdo, Tibet (Photo: Global-Times)

Let’s shed a light on our love to our children and it might sound clichéd: Children are the light which brightens our day and their innocence melts us, their giggles are the sound of gods and it is electric when they call you Mommy/Daddy, I am sure every parent can relate to this.

Now all you need to do right now is to imagine a parents same age as you and children same age as yours but under constant threat of them taking away because the government decided that language you speak and religion you follow is slowing down the country’s development. Here is the excerpt from UN website – expressed by independent UN Human Rights experts, “Participants are reportedly prevented from using the Tibetan minority language and discouraged from expressing their religious identity, both of which the authorities consider as obstacles to poverty alleviation.” 

China is adamant in their attempt to Sinicize Tibet through mandatory large-scale programmes. They aim to brainwash our innocent children and systematically genocide our culture and traditions.

We knew China’s plan long ago and now they are getting bolder and especially when world is distracted. However, I am sure they will not succeed.

Lastly, on this World Children Day I simply want to state that the love that we have for our children is unconditional and everyone wants the best for their children. However, current state in Tibet is dire and thousands of children’s rights are deprived. We must understand their plights and raise questions or would you rather be quiet?

I mourn for Tibetan martyrs who gave their lives for our language and I continue prayers and support for those who are still fighting.

Tenzin Younten is a former employer of Library of Tibetan Works and Archives and currently a home maker.

We are Free Tibet, and we stand with Tibetans around the world. For their homeland, for their future and against China’s brutal occupation.