No Religion in Tibetan Schools, China Tells Parents

Parents of Tibetan schoolchildren may no longer carry rosaries, prayer wheels, or other religious items onto school grounds, Chinese authorities in one Tibetan county say, as China continues to enact policies wearing away at Tibetans’ distinct cultural identity.

Family members are also forbidden now to recite mantras or other prayers when visiting their children’s schools, a Tibetan living in Sog (in Chinese, Suo) county in the Tibet Autonomous Region’s Nagchu (Naqu) prefecture told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

Posted on school blackboards beginning in April, the new regulations remind students and their families that “Schools are places to cultivate and produce socialist scholars, and should not be used as places in which to follow rituals and traditions,” RFA’s source said.

“The restrictions are now in place in all junior and middle schools in Sog county, and students have been told to make sure their parents or guardians know the regulations must be followed,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Chinese Communist Party members and government employees including retired workers are already forbidden from making open displays of religious practice, “but these new restrictions on the behavior of students’ parents are a complete violation of their rights and an insult to Tibetan religion and culture,” the source said.

“Since China is gearing up this year to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the [July 23] founding of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), authorities are stepping up their efforts to spread the Party’s ideology in Tibetan counties, towns, monasteries, and schools,” he said.

“These places are all being told to report back to ensure their loyalty to the CCP,” he added.

Language rights threatened

Restrictions already in place on the use of the Tibetan language in Tibetan schools, with preference given to instruction in Mandarin, are meanwhile causing Tibetan children to lose fluency in their own language, sources say.

Language rights have become a particular focus for Tibetan efforts to assert national identity in recent years, with informally organized language courses in the monasteries and towns deemed illegal associations, and teachers subject to detention and arrest.

Formerly an independent nation, Tibet was invaded and incorporated into China by force 70 years ago.

Chinese authorities maintain a tight grip on the region, restricting Tibetans’ political activities and peaceful expression of cultural and religious identity, and subjecting Tibetans to persecution, torture, imprisonment, and extrajudicial killings.

Reported by Luboom for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Tenzin Dickyi. Written in English by Richard Finney.

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