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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?"

Report reveals determined Chinese assault on Tibetan language

February 22, 2008

Free Tibet Campaign, London
20 February 2008

In a briefing released today to mark International Mother Language
Day, Free Tibet Campaign reveals the threats posed to the survival of
Tibetan as a written and spoken language in Tibet.

Forked tongue: Tibetan language under attack (1) begins by detailing
the rights of Tibetans, under Article 5 of the Universal Declaration
on Cultural Diversity to "express themselves and to create and
disseminate their work in the language of their choice, and
particularly in their mother tongue", as well as being "entitled to
quality education and training that fully respect their cultural

The briefing makes a clear case that, whilst playing lip service to
protecting the Tibetan language, the Chinese government seems intent
on subverting and eventually eliminating the use of the Tibetan mother

According to Free Tibet Campaign, the Chinese authorities occupying
Tibet are making life impossible for Tibetans who are not fluent in
Mandarin Chinese by passing laws to minimise teaching of Tibetan in
schools and by replacing Tibetan language with Chinese language in
many spheres of public life.

Anne Holmes, campaign manager of Free Tibet Campaign, said: "To
further its goal of making Mandarin the lingua franca of Tibet, the
authorities are encouraging mass migration by Han Chinese who have no
need or desire to learn Tibetan. Now Tibetan parents must choose
between their unique culture and their children's future."

According to UNESCO there are between 6000 and 7000 spoken languages
in the world today. Ironically, Tibetan is not listed on the UNESCO
website as either an independent or a Chinese language.(2) Before
releasing the briefing, Free Tibet Campaign left numerous requests for
clarification of this oversight with UNESCO staff. None of the calls
were returned.

Tsering Dorje, a former Tibetan schoolteacher from Amdo now living in
India who contributed his first hand testimony to Forked tongue, asks
an obvious question: "It is all very well for UNESCO to have a Mother
Language Day every February, but how can this protect the Tibetan

In the spirit of International Mother Language Day, Free Tibet
Campaign is calling on China to pass - and enforce - a law making
Tibetan the official language of the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR).

According to Tsering Dorje, such a law "is the only way to protect the
Tibetan language and to provide equality of opportunities for Tibetans
in their own country."

 Norman Baker MP, a member of the UK All Party Parliamentary Group for
Tibet, endorsed this call, saying: "The Chinese government are
following a deliberate policy of extinguishing all that is Tibetan,
including their own language in their own country. It may be obvious,
but Tibetan should be the official language of Tibet. The world must
act. Time is running out for Tibet."
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