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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Tibetan students in China protest over language policy

October 25, 2010

BBC
October 20, 2010

Qinghai was the scene of violent protests in
2008, but police did not intervene this week

At least 1,000 ethnic Tibetan students in China
have protested against what they say is the loss
of their culture and language, a rights group has said.

The students say education reforms mean most
textbooks and lessons will now be in Mandarin Chinese.

The London-based Free Tibet campaign group said
the peaceful march took place in Tongren, Qinghai province.

The area is home to many ethnic Tibetans and was
the scene of heavily suppressed riots in 2008.

Residents contacted by phone by Reuters said the
march through Tongren, also known as Rebkong, was
allowed to pass without police interference.

They said the protests took place on Tuesday.

Language erosion

"They (the protesters) went home in the early
afternoon after government officials came out and
talked with them," one of the residents told Reuters.

Estimates of the total number of participants ranged from 1,000 to 7,000.

The Free Tibet group said there were between
5,000 and 9,000 demonstrators from six schools.

It said they were angered by changes to education
policy which would limit the use of Tibetan language in schools.

All textbooks and subjects will be in Mandarin
Chinese, except for Tibetan and English language classes.

"The Chinese are enforcing reforms which remind
me of the Cultural Revolution," the group quoted
one unnamed former Tongren teacher as saying.

"This reform is not only a threat to our mother
tongue, but is in direct violation of the Chinese
constitution, which is meant to protect our rights.

"The use of Tibetan is being systematically wiped
out as part of China's strategy to cement its
occupation of Tibet," Free Tibet said.

China rules the Tibet Autonomous Region strictly
but usually allows more freedom to Tibetan
populations elsewhere in China; Tibetan is an
official language in Tibet and parts of China such as Qinghai.

The Chinese government says it is bringing
development and economic opportunities to areas
long subject to official neglect.
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