Geneva: The Twelfth Session of the UN Forum on Minority Issues is being convened on 28 and 29 November 2019 at UN Building also known as Palace of Nations (Palais des Nations) in Geneva. This year, the theme of the Forum is “Education, Language and the Human Rights of Minorities.”
The Representative of His Holiness Dalai Lama Mr Chhime Rigzen, the UN Advocacy Officer Ms Kalden Tsomo and Special Appointee for Human Rights Ms Thinlay Chukki all working at the Office of Tibet, Geneva attended the Forum. They met with the Special Rapporteur with briefings about the deplorable state of Tibetan language in Tibet.
Delivering the oral statement at the Forum Ms Thinlay Chukki highlighted the imposition of policy of monolingualism by China on Tibetans. She stated that Tibetans have been ‘minoritized’ by China in their own land and Mandarin language is being imposed on Tibetans.
She further highlighted the retributive policies of Chinese leading to incarceration of language rights advocate like Tashi Wangchuk, the recent arrest of Tibetan monk Sonam Palden from Kirti Monastery and the destruction of Larung Gar and Yachen Gar Buddhist academies which have rendered thousands of monks, nuns and laypersons homeless with no access to study Buddhism in Tibetan language.
Ms Chukki also referenced to the latest self-immolation by 24-year-old Yonten in Tibet and stated that many amongst the 154 self-immolators in Tibet have called for the preservation of Tibetan language. Through the forum, she called upon the Chinese government to adopt effective policies for the preservation of Tibetan language and called for the immediate release of Tashi Wangchuk, Sonam Palden and all other Tibetan language advocates languishing in the Chinese prisons and centres.
She remarked, “Tibetans are deprived of learning their own language on their own land; Tibetans are deprived of teaching their own language on their own land- if this is not human rights violations then what is.”
As noted by the Forum, “The rights of linguistic minorities are human rights that must be respected, including in relation to the appropriate degree of use of minority languages. Education in minority languages is fundamental for the protection and promotion of cultural and linguistic diversity and of the human rights of persons belonging to minorities.”
The copy of the entire oral statement is available below:
28 November 2019
Twelfth Session of the UN Forum on Minority Issues on
“Education, Language and the Human Rights of Minorities”
Statement delivered by Ms Thinlay Chukki on the theme of “Public policy objectives for education in and the teaching of, minority rights.”
One of the greatest challenges faced by minority groups in preserving their culture is the imposition of monolingualism.
Tibetans “minoritized” by China are facing the imposition of mandarin.
Firstly, Tibetan Schools have been banned from teaching in Tibetan language. Instead Mandarin has been imposed as the medium of instruction. Secondly, monasteries have now been banned from offering Tibetan language classes, depriving Tibetans of learning the language from other sources. Thirdly, Tibetans who learn Tibetan language are hindered of economic pursuits and social mobility. Tibetan students graduating in Tibetan language do not have any job prospects. Even the UN Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination has reported many discriminative practices carried out by China against Tibetans.
Finally, there is retribution against language rights advocates like the incarceration of language rights advocate Tashi Wangchuk and the recent arrest of a Tibetan monk named Sonam Palden from Kirti monastery for highlighting the deplorable state of Tibetan language on social media. The large-scale demolitions of Buddhist academies like Larung Gar and Yachen Gar have rendered thousands of monks, nuns and laypersons homeless with no access to learn Buddhism in Tibetan language.
Till date 154 Tibetans have set themselves on fire, the last one being just couple of days back. Some of these self-immolators set themselves on fire with calls for the preservation of Tibetan language.
Tibetans are deprived of learning their own language on their own land; Tibetans are deprived of teaching their own language on their own land- if this is not human rights violations then what is.
Through this forum we call upon China to adopt effective policies to preserve and promote Tibetan language and to stop adopting retributive policies against the language advocates and immediately release Tashi Wangchuk, Ven. Sonam Palden and all other Tibetan language advocates languishing in Chinese prisons and detention centres.
-Filed by Tibet Bureau, Geneva