Student protests at marginalisation of Tibetan language spread

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Tibetan student protests that began in Rongwo town, capital of Rebkong County (Chinese: Tongren) on 19 October (1) are spreading across Tibetan Autonomous Prefectures. Thousands of students, many of them in their early teens, are taking to the streets to protest against policies that will make Chinese the main language in education. Students are expressing their desire to continue to study and learn in their native Tibetan.

The Provincial Secretary of Qinghai Province, Qiang Wei, chaired a meeting in Xining at the beginning of October where the policy was announced. He is reportedly visiting Rebkong County today, 21 October.

Tawo township, Golog Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture

This morning, 21 October, from sunrise, Tibetan Middle School students protested against the proposed reforms in Tawo town (Ch: Dawu), the capital of Golog Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (Ch: Guolo) in Qinghai province (2).(see attached photographs). From 2pm armed police monitored the protesters and people have been prevented from going onto the streets of Tawo.

Gedun Choepe township, Rebkong county (Ch: Tongren), Malho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (Ch: Huangnan)

Students in a middle school (aged 12-14) protested today, 21 October, inside their school as they were prevented from leaving the premises.

Chabcha township, Tsolho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture

An estimated 2,000 students from four schools (3) in Chabcha town, Chabcha county (Ch: Gonghe), Tsolho (Chinese: Hainan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture protested in the streets of Chabcha on Wednesday 20 October. Students from the Tsolho Tibetan Teacher Training School had been held back from protesting by police and teachers on 19 October, but on 20 October they protested and were joined by up to 2,000 students from three other local schools from the early morning (8-9am).

They marched to the prefectural government building chanting “We want freedom for Tibetan language”. It is reported that police and teachers stopped the protests after approximately three hours and brought the students back to their schools.

Tsigorthang County, Tsolho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (Ch: Hainan)

Students from a Tibetan middle school also demonstrated in Tsigorthang County (Ch: Xinghai), Tsolho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai on 20 October.(See attached photograph).

Tibetan has already been replaced by Chinese as the main language in schools in many other Tibetan areas, including the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Tsering Dorje, a former middle school teacher, said “Students who study in their mother-tongue achieve much better results in their education, while many Tibetans who are forced to learn in Chinese are struggling to keep up or dropping out of education early.”

In the areas where protests are taking place Tibetan is still the language that all classes are taught in.


Notes to Editor


(2) The schools are the Tibetan Teacher Training School, Tibetan Section of Prefectural Medical School, Teacher Training Collage, and Ethnic Middle School Chabcha Township, Chabcha county (Ch: Gonghe), Tsolho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (Ch: Hainan), Qinghai Province.

(3) The students are from schools in Tawo (Ch: Dawu) town, capital of Golog (Ch:Guoluo) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.

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