Tibetans Seek Global Help To Stem Chinese Attack on Culture


Free Tibet, a London-based Tibetan organisation, appealed to the global community to support their initiative to preserve their culture from the onslaught of Chinese

At a webinar organised by the Open Forum, Tibetan activists in exile and campaign groups described how “systematically,” and brazenly China is crushing Tibetan identity and culture as the world is busy making deals with them.

“Imagine demolishing the home you built with your own hand. This is the predicament of Tibetans living in the Drago county of the Tibetan province of Kham, known for their strong cultural and religious heritage,” according to a report released by Free Tibet and their research arm Tibet Watch.

Speaking at the Open Forum webinar about the first-time-ever findings of the report, John Jones, the policy and research manager of Free Tibet said: “Senior monks were summoned to convince people to demolish their own school.”

Tibetans Seek Global Help To Stem Chinese Attack on Culture

“They are threatened with reprisals if they don’t comply,” the forum heard. “This is not all, those who showed remorse at such destruction were imprisoned.”

“What happened to the residents of Drago county is emblematic of the CCP’s (Chinese Republic Party) attempts to systematically eradicate Tibet’s distinct way of life, its culture, religion, language, and history,” added John.

The event was moderated by Choekyi Lhamo, an independent journalist from– Dharamsala in India. Despite being a Tibetan born in exile, Choekyi said she could “relate to the systematic oppression of Tibetan culture.” 

“At least 78 per cent of all Tibetan students between the ages of 6-18 now live in boarding schools. They are being raised by the Chinese government in boarding schools separated from their families, traditions, culture, and religion. Not speaking the Tibetan language for the vast majority of their lives. They may have a Tibetan language class but Mandarin and Chinese are the languages of instruction,” said Lhadong Tethong, director of Tibet Action Institute.

Tibetans Seek Global Help To Stem Chinese Attack on Culture

Under the pretext of education, the Chinese government is taking children as young as four away from their Tibetan parents.

“They are attempting to wipe out Tibetan identity and replace it with a Chinese identity so that there is no resistance to the Chinese occupation of Tibet in future,” said Lhadon.

Breaking down what changing value system looks like Chemi Lhamo, a Canadian – Tibetan activist told the forum, a young Tibetan growing up in a traditional nomadic had a goat and if Tibetan if someone handed them Tibetan bread then, “ their instinct is to share with the goat and now the change and shift the value system is that these children are being taught not only do you eat the bread on your own but if you are hungry then you eat the goat too.”

“Tibetans never have true safety and protection in being Tibetan in Tibet but now under Xi-Jinping, it’s like even the gloves are off. They don’t even really pay lip service to the idea of regional ethnic autonomy or they have just overturned any existing ideas that Tibetans even an ethnic minority of China, which we are not,” said Lhadon.

She further added, “We are an independent nation under an illegal occupation but the idea that Tibetans even as an ethnic minority of China should have some semblance rights and freedoms to protect or promote Tibetan language or culture or Buddhism and whatnot–that’s all gone out of the window under Xi-Jinping. Every year gets worse, but the world does not know and cannot see clearly.”

Tibetans Seek Global Help To Stem Chinese Attack on Culture

Tibet has become a black hole of information observed Lhadon. Those who live inside cannot come out and the ones outside cannot go in. Isolating Tibet is now engrained in Chinese policy, especially after 2008. A milestone moment in the Tibetan struggle was when China was hosting the Olympics. Millions of Tibetans soon after the 10th of March rose against Chinese rule. It’s almost akin to North Korea as far as information and communication are concerned, the forum was told by the panellists.

Extending the argument further Chemi Lhamo, told the forum, “with China’s long-arm tactics, they exist in not just inside Tibet but overseas even in places like Canada. We know from recent reports of safeguard offenders that existence of Chinese police stations in almost 50 countries.”

One would wonder how information can come out of Tibet for a report to be written if this is the level of surveillance.

“What we relied in this report – interviewing former residents, satellite imagery, local news reports, local news reports and local government statements which are often one hand propaganda but on the other half give useful details on what the authorities are thinking, also there were some photos and details made way from Drago country anonymously to groups like Free Tibet,” said John talking about the hard one year of putting the report together.

All is not lost. There is hope.  Chemi spoke about how in Toronto every Wednesday Tibetans turn up outside the Chinese Embassy at 8.30 am to register their presence and remind the authorities of their atrocities. From opening schools with Buddhist ethos to raising voices at various platforms and locals inside Tibet doing their bit, “Tibetans despite all that is happening continue to thrive…our existence becomes resistance,” said Chemi with pride.

All engagement and resistance are non-violent resistance.

She added, “There is a saying in Tibetan – every Tibetan born after 1959 is born an activist”

Free Tibet report: here https://freetibet.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/Drago-County.pdf

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