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Tibetan Children Appeal To European Parliament Over China Language Policy

October 29, 2010

NTD Television
October 28, 2010

About 40 children of Tibetan descent delivered a
petition to the European Parliament on Wednesday,
protesting against Chinese government plans to
extend the use of Mandarin in schools.

Calling for freedom of language to be respected,
the children presented a letter listing
signatures of Tibetan children living in Europe.

One Tibetan boy read the letter aloud in English,
calling on European lawmakers to preserve Tibet's cultural heritage.

[Tibetan Child]:
"Please speak for us, for the voiceless. Don't let Tibet die!

European Parliament Vice President Roberta
Angelilli says language is a critical part of a child's education.

[Roberta Angelilli, European Parliament Vice President]:

"It's a fundamental right. It's a question of
democracy. A question of human rights. So the
European Parliament must guarantee this opportunity."

Authorities in China say Tibetans should become
fluent in Chinese to benefit from wider education
and job opportunities.

But critics say the policy threatens Tibetan
culture, and will leave students fluent in
neither Tibetan nor Mandarin.

[Tsering Lhamo, Spokesperson, Tibetan Children in Belgium]:

"It is very important for us to keep preserving
our language for the next generations to come. So
I think that the Chinese government what they are
trying to do is totally delete everything which
is related to our own tradition.”

The children closed the gathering by singing the Tibetan national hymn.

According to the London-based campaign group
"Free Tibet," student protests have taken place in Tibet and western China.
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