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UN rights chief says she raised Tibetan linguistic, religious rights during her China visit

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(TibetanReview.net, May29’22) – The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Michelle Bachelet, has said May 28 that she had spoken to the Chinese leadership about the need to protect the Tibetan people’s linguistic and religious rights during her May 23-28 visit to China and Chinese ruled East Turkestan (Xinjiang).

“On the Tibet Autonomous Region, it is important the linguistic, religious and cultural identity of Tibetans be protected, and that Tibetan people are allowed to participate fully and freely in decisions about their religious life and for dialogue to take place,” she said in her statement from Guangzhou at the end of her tour.

In particular, she has stressed the importance of Tibetan children being taught in their own mother tongue in their own family and community settings. “I discussed education policies in the Tibet Autonomous Region and stressed the importance of children learning in their own language and culture in the setting of their families or communities,” she said in her statement.

It was the only paragraph in her statement which focused on Tibet.

In the only other paragraph in her statement which contained any mention of Tibet, she has said, “In advance of my visit, my Office and I met virtually with a number of civil society organisations that are working on issues relating to Xinjiang, Tibet, Hong Kong and other parts of China.”

And she has spoken of having interacted with “civil society organisations, academics, and community and religious leaders and others inside and outside” the People’s Republic of China.

Under President Xi Jinping’s renewed and much more stringent and coercive Sinicization move, China has made Mandarin Chinese the only medium of instruction in schools in Tibet even for kindergarten children. Privately-run schools and coaching centres teaching Tibetan language and culture have been shut down with their buildings demolished in some cases.

China also now requires Tibetan Buddhist religious texts to be translated into Mandarin Chinese so that student monks and nuns should learn and speak with each other only in this so-called common national language rather than in their own mother tongue.

The atheist Chinese government has also passed laws to assume the right to appoint reincarnations of Tibetan Buddhist leaders despite the fact that it is an intrinsically religious process involving prayers, rituals and belief systems as well as following instructions left by the deceased leaders.

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