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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

China's Attempts to Wipe Out the Language and Culture of Tibet

November 15, 2009

Tibetan Response to China's White Paper of 25 September 2008
Tibet Custom
November 13, 2009


On 27 September 2009, the Chinese government
issued a white paper on its nationalities policy.
This is the third white paper on the minority
nationalities. The first was issued in 1999 and
the second in 2005. Meanwhile on 25 September
2008, the Chinese government issued a white paper
on the protection and development of Tibetan culture.

The latest white paper issued by the Information
Office of the State Council, the Chinese cabinet,
comes in the wake of the most sustained and
widespread protests in both Tibet and Xinjiang in
2008 and 2009, respectively. These protests,
growing out of economic marginalisation and
racial discrimination, were mercilessly
suppressed with unprecedented military force.

The latest white paper comes four days before the
60th birthday of the People’s Republic of China
on 1 October. It seems that this white paper is
the Chinese government’s birthday gift to the
minority nationalities. Will the minority
nationalities accept this official and repeated
whitewashing of the atrocities they have suffered
under the Communist Party for these years? During
these years their identities have been
undermined, in some cases, erased, their cultures
broken, their languages made useless and their
legitimate aspirations for greater freedoms and
more civil liberties actively suppressed.

The answers to these question and the issues
raised by them are explored in a specifically
Tibetan context by a group of officials of the
Central Tibetan Administration and the Tibetan
Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, a human
rights watchdog based in Dharamsala.

The Tibetan response is broadly divided into four
chapters, which in turn are divided into many
sub-headings. The four main chapters are: 1) The
Status of Learning, Using and promoting Tibetan
Language; 2) The Status of Tibetan Cultural
Preservation in Tibet; 3) The Status of Religious
Freedom in Tibet; and 4) The Status of Modern
Scientific Education and Development of the Media inside Tibet.

In this rejoinder, a substantial amount of
evidence has been meticulously put together to
make a compelling case that the Chinese
government has committed -- and is committing —
nothing less than cultural genocide on the
world's roof. This evidence is sourced primarily
from the documents brought out by the Chinese
government itself, and also from the oral and
written statements, opinions or suggestions made
by Tibetans inside Tibet. Viewpoints of the
Tibetan exiles and foreign experts or scholars on
Tibet are deliberately not included.

As the political struggle of the Tibetan people
[for greater freedoms in Tibet] is increasingly
being recognised on the international stage as
the struggle between truth and falsehood, we hope
this response will go a long way towards
vindicating the truth that basically lies on the side of the Tibetans.


The September 2008 white paper on Tibet is called
"Protection and Development of Tibetan Culture."

As was its tradition, the Chinese government has
churned out a lot of statistical figures in this
document to claim that it has spent a huge amount
of money for the protection and promotion of
Tibetan culture. As a result, the document
further claims, Tibet has progressed by leaps and
bounds linguistically, spiritually and
culturally, as well as in the areas of imparting
modern scientific education and developing the
media over the years of its "liberation from the
feudal serfdom". The circulation of this document
is a deliberate attempt on the part of the
Beijing establishment to cover up the crime that
it has been committing in Tibet — a crime of
annihilating an ancient civilisation that has
thrived on the world's highest plateau for centuries.

After invading Tibet, the Chinese communist
regime has always followed a policy aimed at
destroying the language and culture of Tibet, as
well as its people, employing both overt and
covert means — barring a short period of cultural
revival in the 1980s, as a result of strong
opinions expressed by many Tibetans during the
tenure of the late Hu Yaobang that the Chinese
government policies with regard to its work in
Tibet were not of any benefit1 to the Tibetan people.

 From 1955 to 1978, the communist China -- in a
very overt manner -- initiated numerous
destructive campaigns aimed at the extirpation of
the culture and people of Tibet. From the 1990s,
however, a change of tactics was seen in its
dealing with Tibet. Besides dispersing massive
propaganda that it guarantees the right to
religious freedom, and protects and promotes
Tibetan language and culture, the Chinese
government has also allowed foreign tourists to
visit some monasteries and temples. But this was
done with the sole purpose of showing to the
outside world that it is indeed protecting
Tibetan religion and culture. The reality,
however, is that under various slogans such as
"advance culture should lead backward culture",
"development must accompany destruction" and
"Tibetan Buddhism should be guided to conform
itself to socialism", the Chinese government has
been initiating numerous campaigns to gradually
obliterate Tibetan religion and culture.

Tibetans inside Tibet have made and continue to
make all-round efforts, utilising the minimal
freedom that they enjoy under Chinese rule, to
protect and promote their ancestral religion,
culture, and language, as well as their customs
and traditions. Their efforts are bearing
considerable results. But this is due to their
own great personal sacrifices and should not be
mistaken for the achievements of the Chinese government. (...)

1 Hu Yaobang said, "For some time now, we have
been receiving suggestions on our work in Tibet.
These include suggestions made by our comrades
from within and outside the Party. These also
include suggestions made by our comrades in
Beijing and by our comrades working in Tibet.
Some of these suggestions could be considered a
little too extreme. However, some of my comrades
in the Secretariat and I are of the same opinion
that many of these suggestions should be given
much importance to by not only the Central
Government but also all of you. Going by what I
have heard, although all of you have heard these
suggestions, you do not totally agree with some
of these, or treat these as a blame being placed
upon you for something you are not responsible at
all. You are, moreover, somewhat angry with some
of our comrades' assertions that the Central
Government's policies with regard to its work in
Tibet are not of any benefit to the Tibetan people."

The above is condensed from Comrade Hu Yaobang's
7 statements to the [Second] Work Forum on Tibet
held from 27 February to 6 March 1984. The
speeches are available in an internal publication
of the CCP "Tibet Autonomous Regional"
Committee's Policy Research Department called A
Compilation of "TAR" Documents Concerning the
Implementation of the Recommendations of the Work
Forum on Tibet Convened by the Central Committee
Secretariat, Vol. 1, 1984, p. 62

(Read a full text of the report at
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