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27thmay201188809Dharamshala: Four human rights experts from the UN Human Rights Council on 22 October 2010 issued a joint urgent appeal to China regarding allegations relating to restrictions imposed on the use of the Tibetan language in schools in northeastern Tibet.

The experts of the Council were the Special Rapporteur on the right to education, contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, related intolerance and independent expert on minority issues and the independent expert in the field of cultural rights.

The experts told the Chinese government: "Such alleged restrictions on the use of the Tibetan language in schools would have a negative impact on those of Tibetan origin and the preservation and promotion of the Tibetan language generally."

They also said concerns related to the impact of the education reforms on the education outcomes as well as to access to their cultural heritage of children whose mother tongue language was Tibetan. Those children had benefited from bilingual education that had enabled them to become proficient in both languages, ensuring access to their own cultural heritage.

The Chinese authority denied such allegations claiming that there had not been any detentions of students connected to the protests and stated that they listened to their grievances.

Last year, the Tibetan students in Rebkong and Chabcha protested against the Chinese government policy restricting the use of Tibetan language.

In a petition written by Tibetan teachers to the authorities, the Tibetan teachers write that they support a genuine bilingual language policy, in which the teaching of the Chinese language is strengthened, but subjects are taught through the Tibetan language medium.

But the Chinese authorities are setting in place what they also characterise as a "bilingual" policy but which appears to mean in practice an education imperative which is designed to transition minority students from education in their mother tongue to education in Chinese. New measures to "forcefully develop ‘bilingual' pre-school education in the farming and pastoral areas, strengthen teaching of the Chinese language in the basic education phase, [and] basically resolve nationality students' fundamental ability issues in speaking and understanding Chinese" were outlined as part of a ten-year plan for 2010-2020 in Qinghai in June.

In a response dated 18 November, 2010 to the UN human rights experts, Chinese government asserts that they respect the views and opinions from the teachers and students. They assured that the matter has been resolved and the situation in the schools has returned to normal.

Mr Githu Muigai, Special Rapporteur, stated that it wishes to emphasise paragraph 82 of the outcome document of the Durban Review Conference, which affirms that "The existence and the national or ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic identity of minorities shall be protected, and the persons belonging to these minorities should be treated equally and enjoy human rights and fundamental freedoms without discrimination of any kind."

The 17th session of the UN Human Rights Council will be held from 30 May to 17 June, 2011 at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.

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