Tibetan graduate student detained for expressing concerns about Tibetan language

Students learning Chinese writing in a school in Golog
Students learning Chinese writing in a school in Golog
12th January 2022

Language advocate Loten has been taken to a reform centre after sharing his views on WeChat

On 12 December 2021, Chinese authorities and security personnel in Matoe County arrested Loten (བློ་བསྟན།), a college graduate student after he spoke in an online messaging group on WeChat expressing disagreement with the policy of sinicization of the education system in Golog. He has since been kept in a detention centre in Xiling (ཟི་ལིང་།) City.

According to a confidential source, Loten had stated that the implementation of Chinese medium education and textbooks in Tibetan schools aims to "cut off the link between the mother tongue (the Tibetan language) and Tibetan kids from a young age". The source further stated, "he has been arrested and forcefully taken to Xiling City, capital of Qinghai Province. Authorities have informed his family via a phone call that he is undergoing re-education training in Xiling but have not given the exact location of the detention centre or details of the re-education training. His family have not even been allowed to visit him."

Loten, aged 23, hails from Kyarang Township (སྐྱ་རིང་གྲོང་སྡེ།) in Golog Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province and has a keen interest in the preservation of the Tibetan language.

Closing of Tibetan language schools in Golog

Chinese authorities in Golog have forcefully shut down Sengdruk Tatkse Middle School, a renowned school in early July 2021. Since September 2021, authorities across Tibet have implemented a nationwide policy of mandatory Mandarin education in preschools. School teachers, students and intellectuals have been arrested after raising concerns and grievances about the policy. A recent report published by Tibet Action Institute has revealed that a vast network of colonial boarding schools across Tibet has seen 800,000 to 900,000 Tibetan students isolated into an education system that seeks to eliminate Tibetan identity.

Information supplied by Tibet Watch