Thousands of students protest

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Several thousand Tibetan students from six Tibetan schools took to the streets from 7am this morning, 19 October, chanting “We want equality of nationality, we want equality of culture [sic]” in Rongwo town, Rebkong County (Chinese: Tongren), in the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Malho (Ch: Huangnan). Eyewitnesses report that between five and nine thousand students participated in the protest.

Students from the National Senior Middle School of Rebkong County marched through Rebkong from school to school and were joined by more and more students from other schools(2). The students then gathered outside the People’s Government Building in Rebkong. Unusually for a protest of this size in Tibet, police did not interfere. Free Tibet is concerned that protesters may be detained or otherwise punished in the days or weeks following the protests. Free Tibet will therefore be monitoring the situation in Rebkong County.

The protests were sparked by Chinese educational reforms in Rebkong which stipulate that all subjects will be taught in Chinese and all textbooks will be in Chinese except for Tibetan language and English classes. These reforms have already been implemented in other areas across the Tibetan plateau, including in primary schools. The use of Tibetan is being systematically wiped out as part of China’s strategy to cement its occupation of Tibet.

A former middle school teacher in Rebkong said: “The Chinese are enforcing reforms which remind me of the Cultural Revolution. This reform is not only a threat to our mother-tongue, but is in direct violation of the Chinese constitution which is meant to protect our rights. For Tibetans the Chinese constitution is meaningless.”

Ends

Notes to Editor

1) Free Tibet is an international campaigning organisation that stands for the right of Tibetans to determine their own future. We campaign for an end to the Chinese occupation of Tibet and for the fundamental human rights of Tibetans to be respected.

2) The other schools from which students protested are National Middle School of Rebkong, Teachers’ School of Malho, Medical School of Malho, Rebkong Yifu Middle School and the Boarding School of Rebkong County.

For further information and interviews please contact Free Tibet’s Director <a href="http://www.freetibet.org/contact-us">Stephanie Brigden</a>

E: stephanie@freetibet.org

T: +44 (0)20 7324 4605

M: +44 (0)7971 479515