- Posted January 3, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Life in China
- Why freedom of speech matters: The silenced struggle in Tibet
- Chinese colonialism in Tibet causes cultural identity crisis
- Chinese colonialism in Tibet causes cultural identity crisis
- A half century of blood and tears: Tibet still under occupation
- Tibetan father of two set himself on fire to protest China's rule in Tibet
China’s Tibet policy continued attempt at erasing Tibetan identity
In world history, language is maintained as a matter of national identity, language defines a culture. The current genocide of the Tibetan language by the Chinese government, through the removal of Tibetan language from schools replaced with Chinese, aims to make Chinese children out of Tibetan children.
Buddhism and culture depend on the rich and developed language that we call Tibetan. Standard Tibetan is based on the speech of the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, also Ü-Tsang dialect belonging to the Central Tibetan languages. For this reason, Standard Tibetan is often called Central Tibetan. It is in turn one of several branches of the Tibetan languages, the others being Kham (Tibetan: Kham kad) and Amdo (Tibetan: Amdo kad). Written Standard Tibetan is based on Classical Tibetan and is highly conservative. This complex and historic development of our language could be removed from history in just a few generations by Chinese policies in schools.
In October 2010, thousands of Tibetan middle and primary school students from four different places in north-eastern Tibet have been taking to the streets to demonstrate. They all had one simple goal: to speak up for the Tibetan language.
Many Tibetan intellectuals around the world expressed their fears for Tibetan students protesting Chinese education reforms that aim to slowly eradicate Tibetan language a medium of instruction in their schools. These series of protests swept across Tibet in reaction to the Chinese government’s stated intention to curb or eliminate the use of the Tibetan language in Tibetan schools.
After the largest protests in Tibet since the March 2008 uprising. China said that Tibet will come out with a regulation to standardize the usage of Tibetan language, which will help its popularization.
Tibetans need to be able to preserve their language because it is the issue of solidify their cultural identity. But, it is clear that the Chinese authorities do not accept Tibetan as a mother tongue, and the authorities think that academic reform is the only solution to solve this issue in Tibet, thus adhering to USSR dictators theory of “to destroy a nation, we must first destroy the language of the nation.”
Most of the world’s languages are spoken by relatively few people; the median number of speakers of a language is 5,000-6,000. There are fewer than 300 languages with more than 1 million native users; half of all languages have fewer than 10,000 users, and a quarter of the world’s spoken languages and most of the sign languages have fewer than 1,000 users. More than 80% of the world’s languages exist only in one country. So, Tibetan language is one of the latest facing linguistical genocide.
The racism by the Chinese communist regime is continuous and abuses the rights of native Tibetan speakers and the other nationalities, such as those in east Turkestan and Inner Mongolia .The Chinese Government is guilty of “Language Genocide”, against the Tibetans for breaching articles of the United Nations Genocide Convention. The Convention defines genocide as any of a number of acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group. Therefore, the Tibetan people can bring the Chinese Government to justice by complaining in International Court over the injustice done by China for not complying with the UN Articles and the “Genocide of the Tibetan Language”.
China says, its constitution gives ethnic groups the right to give priority to their own language in education and daily use. The use of Tibetan language, an official language in the Tibet Autonomous Region, is also mentioned as an mandatory in public places. However, bilingual billboards, license plates, road signs, storefronts and more have been disappearing in recent years. Particularly name plates and official conference banners only display the standard written Chinese during the most major government meetings in the region.
Moreover, the use of Tibetan language is rarely seen whilst driving along the highway, sitting in a airport, bus or train station. This is due to the fact that the standard spoken and written Chinese language is widely used in Tibet in the textbooks, billboards, official documents and specially during their official meetings. Also because of the higher percentage of Chinese inhabitants to Tibetans means that China can justifiably move Tibetan off the walls and replace them with their own language.
The Chinese Government should treat all citizens equally within the law and without any discrimination. Every citizen in China has a right to be protected under the law equally, and equal protection should be applied to all without any discrimination. We must make every effort to persuade the international communities to not allow the Chinese Government to abuse and perform many different forms of genocide on the Tibetan by branding them for “inciting activities to split the nation.” To split a nation would be to say that Tibetans and Chinese are one nation, that as we all all know is completely wrong. Two nations forced together will always have differences and using this as a reason to perform crackdowns is genocide disguised.
The Tibetan language is magnificent, powerful, and interesting in its own right. But what’s more, knowledge of Tibetan not only contributes significantly to world peace and harmony, but also one’s Dharma study and practice. In fact, to study Tibetan is to practice the soul of Buddhism, which even many scientists potentially have an important and productive influence on modern science.
To conclude, we all know that all human beings are both born free and equal in dignity and rights. So everyone should be entitled to all the rights and freedoms and enjoy them without division and distinction of any type, in regard to race, color or national origin as in written article of the Chinese constitution. Genocide of the Tibetan Language is abuse and a humiliation against the Tibetans and humanity in general. The Chinese communist authorities in Tibet do not accept and respect the Tibetan language as a mother tongue; this means that the authorities act like USSR dictators, who prohibited the languages to be used in the occupied states. Tibetans strongly believe this is a big mistake and ignorance and negligent to put other factors aside such as freedom of speech, and the other fundamental rights like education. The vitality of the Tibetan language coupled with linguistic pride represents so much hope for endangered languages. Language is more than just a means of expression. It is also a way of looking at the world and many applaud the efforts of those keeping the transmission alive both in Tibet and the diaspora. Language is the dispository of culture. If you lose that, you could lose everything.