Source: Radio Free Asia
Chinese authorities are stepping up efforts to enforce a ban on Tibetan students from participating in outside classes and engaging in religious activities during the winter break, according to multiple sources from inside Tibet. The intensified crackdown involves rigorous door-to-door checks in residential and commercial areas, with investigations being conducted both during the day and at night to identify and penalize offenders.
The ban, which was initially implemented in 2021, prohibits Tibetan children from attending informal Tibetan language classes or workshops during their winter holidays. This has raised significant concerns among local Tibetans and parents, who fear that the ban will sever the children's ties to their native language and cultural heritage.
Local authorities in several regions, including Tibet's capital Lhasa, Labrang Monastery in Gansu province, and Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai province, are actively enforcing the ban. A notice issued by the Lhasa city authorities explicitly instructs parents not to engage in religious education for their children and to ensure that they voluntarily distance themselves from places of worship.
The notice from the Chinese Education Department mandates that Tibetan children can only participate in supplementary classes and workshops taught by government-authorized individuals and organizations, covering subjects that have been approved by the authorities. Furthermore, the ban on Tibetan children's involvement in religious activities remains strictly enforced.
This stringent enforcement is part of China's broader strategy to implement President Xi Jinping's plans for the "Sinicization of religion," which aims to adapt religions to fit within China's socialist society.
These policies, including the prohibition of Tibetan language education and the imposition of Chinese-only classes, are designed to weaken Tibetan children's connection to their national identity, traditional language, and culture. Rights activists have expressed deep concerns about the potential long-term implications of these policies on the survival of the Tibetan identity and culture.
A previous report from 2022 highlighted Chinese authorities' efforts to replace Tibetan language education in schools with classes taught exclusively in Mandarin. Additionally, a 2023 investigation revealed that Tibetan children attending state-run boarding schools were being separated from their families and taught solely in Mandarin, further intensifying worries about the erosion of Tibetan identity.
Returning members of the Tibetan diaspora to Chinese-occupied Tibet have reported witnessing the effects of these policies on the interactions of their young relatives attending such Mandarin-only schools. The strict enforcement of the ban on outside classes and religious activities during the winter break underscores China's continued efforts to exert control over Tibetan culture and identity
Edited and collated by Team TRC