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European parliament calls for immediate abolition of China’s forced assimilation boarding school system in Tibet

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(TibetanReview.net, Dec15’23) – Citing its previous resolutions on China and Tibet and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the European Parliament has on Dec 14 called on China to immediately abolish its boarding school system in Tibet that seek to eliminate the distinct linguistic, cultural and religious traditions among Tibetans.

The resolution’s adoption followed a debate among European lawmakers on Dec 13 concerning the “continuously deteriorating human rights situation in Tibet under Xi Jinping.”

Adopting a resolution on Tibet by a 477-14 majority, with 45 abstentions, the resolution on “The abduction of Tibetan children and forced assimilation practices through Chinese boarding schools in Tibet” called “for the immediate abolishment of the boarding school system imposed on children in Tibet and the practice of family separations, as highlighted by UN experts in February 2023.” It “further calls on the Chinese authorities to allow the establishment of private Tibetan schools.”

Noting that “the human rights situation in Tibet continues to degrade”, the resolution said “Chinese authorities have established an expansive system of de facto compulsory, highly politicised boarding schools for children aged 4 to 18, requiring them to undergo mandatory education in Mandarin without any opportunity for substantive study of the Tibetan language, history or culture.”

It added that “approximately 80 % of Tibetan children, totalling around one million, have been separated from their families by this system, which aims to forcibly assimilate them culturally, religiously and linguistically into the Han majority.”

The resolution cited UN experts’ concern that “Tibetan children are thus suffering from severe psychological and emotional distress, including loneliness and isolation, and are losing the ability to communicate easily in their native language with their families, contributing to the erosion of their individual and social identity, which violates international human rights and may amount to genocide.”

The resolution welcomed the US decision that imposed restrictions on visas to Chinese officials tied to the coercive boarding school system in Tibet and urged the EU Member States and the Council to adopt similar targeted sanctions.

The resolution also called on the EU member states and its top leadership to demand that the Chinese Government issue visas to European diplomats to visit boarding schools across Tibet, allow independent journalists and international observers into the region and refrain from spreading fake news on the situation in Tibet.

The resolution reiterated the parliament’s call on the Chinese Government to reengage with the representatives of the 14th Dalai Lama to establish genuine autonomy for Tibetans within the People’s Republic of China and urged the Chinese authorities to release the 11th Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, who it had kidnapped into oblivion in 1995, and refrain from interfering in the designation of the Tibetan spiritual leader.

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