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Parliamentary body asks Canada to sanction enforcers of China’s coercive residential school system in Tibet

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(, Jun23’23) – A major Canadian parliamentary body has called for sanctions against Chinese government officials responsible for a coercive boarding school system that has separated the vast majority of Tibetan schoolchildren from their families, language and culture for the purpose of Sinicizing them.

Releasing a report on “The Human Rights Situation of Tibetans and the Chinese Residential Boarding School and Preschool System”, the Parliament’s Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development has called on Canada to use existing measures to impose sanctions on guilty Chinese officials.

The Canadian government should “utilize the Special Economic Measures Act to sanction government officials who are responsible for the implementation of the residential boarding school and preschool system in Tibet,” the report said.

The report calls on Canada to “openly support all initiatives to keep the issue of Tibet residential schools and other violations of minority rights at the forefront of discussions at the United Nations Human Rights Council and other international fora.”

Ottawa is also urged to release a statement echoing the concerns UN experts had raised about this residential school system in a Nov 2022 letter to Beijing.

Under the system, nearly a million Tibetan children have bene removed from their families and forced to undergo their educational upbringing in Mandarin Chinese. As a result, they are losing ability to communicate with their parents and grandparents and learn about their traditions, history and Tibetan identity.

“The harm that the schools are causing to Tibetan children, families and communities must be condemned by every possible means,” the report says.

The report’s publication followed two meetings the subcommittee held with witnesses that included Tibet Action Institute’s Lhadon Tethong and Tenzin Dorjee, Human Rights Watch’s Sophie Richardson, and Tibetan education expert Gyal Lo, who said that boarding schools have operated in Tibet since 1979 but have expanded under Chinese President Xi Jinping to include preschool children, noted Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet on its website Jun 22.

Gyal Lo has said those aged 4 to 6 constitute 100,000 Tibetan children currently boarded in one of more than 50 such boarding preschools, while the remaining 800,000—or 78%—in the other residential schools are aged 6 to 18.

“Local options for schooling in Tibet have been systematically shuttered,” the report says, “while the residential schools have phased out Tibetan language instruction and Tibetan-produced curriculum materials in favour of those employing Han Chinese language and cultural resources and teachers.”

The report follows concerns raised about the residential school system by officials at the UN and in the Czech Republic, Germany and the United States, noted the report.

The report makes 18 recommendations for the Canadian government, including by utilizing the “Special Economic Measures Act” to sanction government officials who are responsible for the implementation of the residential boarding school and preschool system in Tibet, including the provincial party secretary in Tibet, and the architects responsible for designing and implementing the residential boarding school system.

The report also calls on Canada to appoint a Special Coordinator for Tibet, as had been done by the United States since 1997.

Other recommendations include helping to realize the resumption of Sino-Tibetan dialogue on Tibet’s status and pushing for information on the fate and whereabouts of Tibet’s 11th Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Niyma, who was kidnapped by the Chinese government in 1995 at six years of age, days after his recognition by the Dalai Lama.


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