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|8th September 2019, 08:11 AM||#1|
Join Date: Apr 2018
Childhood In Tibet
China is a party to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), as it is party to many other human rights conventions which it regularly violates. It has even caused the passing of a UN resolution calling for the end of universal human rights, replacing universal principles with “localization” and a basis of “co-operation among states”, rather than state accountability for failing to protect such rights.
It is well known that China completely lacks any kind of meaningful political freedom. Protestors and activists are routinely beaten, tortured and imprisoned. Any kind of dissent from Communist orthodoxy is treated as a crime and harshly punished. The Communist ideology permeates all areas of life, and great efforts are made to prevent the arising of dissidence, which begins with the prevention of “thoughtcrime”.
For the Communists of China, therefore, education is a process of indoctrination with the ideals of Maoism. In schools Tibetan children learn nothing about Tibetan history or traditional culture, and are not even permitted to celebrate Tibetan holidays. The only exception is independent schools, which are often monastic or sponsored by Lamas or charities. As we will come to later, these schools are subject to persecution by the Chinese state.
Children are taught to regard Mao as a liberator and to be thankful for Tibet’s “progress” under Chinese occupation. Topics such as history or social studies are taught from the perspective of the Communist Party, and many schools (even primary schools) have specific classes on Maoism and Communism. Tibetan history is taught to be an insignificant detail of Chinese history. Students are made to pledge allegiance to China and beaten or otherwise punished if they refuse.
Indeed, corporal punishment is common in general, beatings are a regular part of life for many Tibetan students. The Tibet Justice Centre states:
“We found that teachers beat children with sticks, bamboo staffs, whips, wires, brooms and belts, shocked some with cattle prods, made others kneel for several hours on glass, sharp stones or rectangular iron bars, forced one child to hold ice in his hands for an hour and locked another child in a dark room for four weeks.”
These practises do not just constitute cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, but actually meet the definition of torture according to International Conventions. Even against adults this is a severe violation of international law, but torture of children is considered especially heinous.
As it ignores International Conventions, China also ignores it’s own Constitution, which provides for the education of minorities in their native tongue. Classes are very rarely taught in the Tibetan language. Usually all education beyond fifth grade is in Chinese, a great disadvantage for ethnic Tibetans, making it impossible for them to attain the level of education necessary for any kind of intellectual work.
There are, however various independent schools which teach predominantly in Tibetan. They also have curricula which include Tibetan history and culture. However many of these schools have been closed down and their teachers even subjected to “re-education” programs, which is to say to be forced to agree with the Party’s point of view on these subjects. On a side note, the worst of these cases is in the monasteries (which in some parts of Tibet continue to fulfil their traditional pedagogic role). There monks and nuns, are subject to a form of “patriotic re-education” which consists of such things as being made to call the Dalai Lama “the destroyer of world peace” - at gunpoint.
The Constitution of China also includes 'the right as well as the duty to receive education'. It states that nine years of free primary and secondary education should be provided for all children. Primary school fees are theoretically banned, yet schools can still charge “miscellaneous fees”. These may “include charges for admission, registration, desks, chairs, books, uniforms, fines for alleged misbehavior and extra fees to augment their teachers' salaries”. Indeed most Tibetan families are made to pay such fees, which can be up to 300 Yuan a month, whilst an average yearly salary for a Tibetan may range from 1,200 to 1,800 Yuan. On top of the fact that many rural families require their children’s help in the field, this makes it impossible for many Tibetan children to receive any kind of education. Furthermore many teachers expect gifts from their students in exchange for preferential (or even reasonable) treatment, gifts which Tibetan families often cannot afford.
Chinese students pay lower fees and are treated better, for example not being punished for fighting with Tibetan students, who are themselves be punished for such acts. Tibetan students, but not Chinese students in Tibet, may be forced to pay fines for misbehaviour, the money going straight to the teacher. Schools also often demand unpaid work from their Tibetan students, such as cleaning toilets, washing dishes or chopping wood at the teacher’s house. Tibetan children in one school reported on by the Tibet Justice Centre are made to stand outside, even in the pouring rain, and wait while the Chinese children use the available classroom. Often by the time the Chinese children’s lessons have finished, there will be no time for the Tibetans to learn anything.
TORTURE AND IMPRISONMENT
Yet this is not the worst of the situation. In Tibet it is not only adults who are subject to imprisonment and the torture which imprisonment in Chinese territory generally involves. Despite the UNCRC stating that detention of minors should be used only as a last resort and with a due process of law, China detains children and adolescents, like adult political prisoners, for long periods without any actual judicial process. This can be for various reasons, such as trying to escape from Tibet or for being involved in any kind of political activity. The former is usually of relatively short duration but with the same atrocious conditions of detention as in the case of political prisoners.
Any child who engages in political activism can be subject to “administrative detention”. This includes not only confinement, but also “re-education through labour”, which is to say forced work. The general pattern is that the arrested child, before sentencing which takes place without legal advice or any formal appearance before a judge, is kept in terrible conditions and subjected to interrogations with torture and physical violence. After sentencing “re-education through labour” begins, with work which can be as extreme as twenty-four to forty-eight shifts gathering rocks for construction projects.
We have already mentioned the use of corporal punishment in schools, which in itself is a contravention of the UNCRC. However in the state’s repressive apparatus, physical maltreatment extends beyond what is practised in the educational system. Electric cattle prods, wires attached to hands, burning hot rods applied to skin, suspension in stress positions and beatings with sticks are common practises. They may also be held in solitary confinement or forced to watch others being tortured. Often insufficient food is provided and clean water unavailable. Older girls may be subjected to sexual abuse.
Children are the future and the hope that change will come. China’s policy of indoctrination and repression intends to destroy all possible seeds of such change. Through brainwashing the youth, giving them the Chinese-Communist version of reality and preventing them from learning about their own history, culture and traditions, the next generation are rendered passive. It isn’t possible to protest if one lack the knowledge of why one should be protesting. When this fails repression enters into the equation, beginning with corporal punishment in school. Knowing that suffering and torture result from expressing dissident beliefs, those among the youth who develop some consciousness of their situation are made afraid to speak up.
All this is an effort to destroy the culture of Tibet and replace it with the Communist dystopia, total spiritual, intellectual and physical subjection, a nightmarish dictatorship in the guise of revolution where everything is controlled by the ever-present party.