By Ben Blanchard
(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
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.
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
one-language policy in Tibet goes beyond education; it is part
of a more general assault on Tibetan culture and identity," he
growing prevalence of the Chinese language in all spheres of
Tibetan public life automatically advantages Chinese settlers
over Tibetans ..."
government in Tibetan capital Lhasa did not answer calls seeking
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.
activists have warned that tourism and migration by Han Chinese
could swamp Buddhist Tibet's distinctive culture.
supposed to enjoy a high level of autonomy, which includes
protection of and support for its language.
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.
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.
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."
not the only minority language in China rights groups say is
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
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.
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.
by Mathew Veedon and Jerry Norton)