[lg policy] China: Language Policy Comes Under Scrutiny

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Sun Mar 18 20:02:58 UTC 2012

Language Policy Comes Under Scrutiny

Thursday, March 15, 2012

* RFA *
 [image: Part of a student crowd protesting over language rights in
Qinghai's Rebkong county.]
Part of a student crowd protesting over language rights in Qinghai's
Rebkong county.

Students demonstrations in China's Qinghai province highlight concerns over
any change in the medium of instruction in schools.

Tibetans have reignited a campaign to highlight language rights in
Tibetan-populated areas, with about 4,000 students taking to the streets in
three counties in China's northwestern Qinghai province on Wednesday to
protest any change in the medium of instruction in schools.

The protests against a proposed change from Tibetan to Chinese language
occurred in schools in Rebkong (in Chinese, Tongren), Tsekhog (Zeku) and
Gangcha (Kangtsa) counties, according to a Tibetan exile spokesman for the
Rebkong community based in the Indian hilltown of Dharamsala.

It was the biggest protest since October 2010 when thousands of Tibetan
middle and primary school pupils from four different autonomous Tibetan
prefectures of Qinghai Province demonstrated for days against a possible
language change policy.

On Wednesday, they "protested against the Chinese [language] policy," the
spokesman said. It is not immediately known whether any language policy
changes are in store but Tibetans have often protested when they sensed
possible changes.    The protests came as a Tibetan monk set himself ablaze
Wednesday at his monastery in Rebkong in Malho (in Chinese, Huangnan)
Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, triggering demonstration by hundreds of
monks and others against Chinese rule in Tibetan-populated areas.

The self-immolation on Wednesday was the 28th by Tibetans since they began
a wave of fiery protests in February 2009 to challenge Beijing's rule and
call for the return of Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. The
student demonstrations on Wednesday began when several hundred students of
three schools—Rebkong Yushu Middle School, Rebkong County Middle School of
Nationalities and Gedun Choephel School—gathered to criticize planned
changes to the education policy.

* 'Equality'*

Joining the protests were more than 2,500 students of Rebkong and Tsekhog
counties "demanding equality for all nationalities [and] freedom of
language," another exile source said, quoting local contacts in the region.
They also called for the removal of Chinese military barracks in Tsekhog
county, the source said.

"The students marched to the county police station, the office of local
armed para military force, and county government center," the source said.
"Armed police and paramilitary forces did arrive at the scene but there
were no reports of cracking down or detention of any students," according
to the source.

Also on Wednesday, about 100 students in Gangcha county protested against
Chinese rule, calling for self-ownership of land and "equality for
languages." They marched to the Gangcha county center and were stopped by
police when they tried to enter the street leading to the town. They
returned to their schools and shouted slogans. Tensions have heightened in
Tibetan-populated provinces and in the Tibet Autonomous Region following a
Chinese security clampdown and the detention of hundreds of monks since
early last year.


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