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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?"

Tibetan language seen hurt by China's neglect

February 22, 2008

BEIJING, Feb 20 (Reuters): The Chinese government is neglecting and
actively undermining the Tibetan language as part of continuing
efforts to dilute the region's unique culture, a human rights group
said on Thursday.

Schools are forcing Tibetan children to learn China's national
language, Mandarin, at a younger and younger age and are failing to
support use of Tibetan in official fields, the Free Tibet Campaign
said in a new report.

"China's insistence on Chinese language in Tibetan schools has failed
a generation of Tibetans who now lag behind the rest of China in terms
of basic literacy," the group's Matt Whitticase said in an emailed
statement.

"But the one-language policy in Tibet goes beyond education; it is
part of a more general assault on Tibetan culture and identity," he
added.

"The growing prevalence of the Chinese language in all spheres of
Tibetan public life automatically advantages Chinese settlers over
Tibetans ..."

The government in Tibetan capital Lhasa did not answer calls seeking comment.

China has ruled Tibet with an iron fist since People's Liberation Army
troops occupied the region in 1950 and has vowed to bring economic
prosperity to the poor Himalayan region.

Tibetan activists have warned that tourism and migration by Han
Chinese could swamp Buddhist Tibet's distinctive culture.

Tibet is supposed to enjoy a high level of autonomy, which includes
protection of and support for its language.

But the Free Tibet Campaign said this was not happening, and quoted an
exiled Tibetan teacher, Tsering Dorje, calling for the Tibetan
language to be made the region's official language.

Letters with addresses in Tibetan fail to get delivered, and parents
are increasingly speaking to their children in Chinese, hoping to give
them an edge in a society where their mother tongue is being
marginalized, the report said.

"Certainly there are few lucrative job prospects for Tibetans who have
not been educated in Chinese," it quoted Tsering Dorje as saying.

"Nor is it possible for a student educated in Tibetan to acquire
professional qualifications at college or university."

Tibetan is not the only minority language in China rights groups say
is threatened.

The exiled Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Centre says
Mongolian usage in Inner Mongolia has also withered, and that many
signs written in Mongolian are poorly translated, or just plain wrong.

In Mongolian's case, even the government has weighed in, admitting in
an unusually frank report late last year that the language's use had
declined, including a huge drop in the number of primary school
students being taught Mongolian.

"The government must pay greater attention to these problems, and come
up with specific measures as soon as possible," official government
Web site www.nmgnews.com.cn reported.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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