Dharamshala, India — Controversial new “Regulations on the Establishment of a Model Area for Ethnic Unity and Progress" came into effect on May 1, 2020, in the occupied Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). Critics of the law argue that it is meant to further undermine Tibetan identity, language, and culture, while ultimately seeking assimilation with the Chinese population.
The new law systemizes ethnic unity in Tibet has drawn fierce criticism from many and raised serious concerns about the future of Tibetan culture and identity in the TAR which covers about half of traditional Tibet, a historically independent country that China has violently occupied for over 60 years. The law lists the duties of officials, schools, and social groups in the region to promote ethnic unity, as well as the heavy penalties for separatists. The “Regulations on the Establishment of a Model Area for Ethnic Unity and Progress” in the region were adopted by the so- People’s Congress of Tibet on January 11, 2020.
The regulations explicitly exclude the principle of “preferential treatment” for Tibetans, which was supposed to guarantee that people of Tibet could maintain their culture and traditional way of life in their own homeland and become the masters of their state and society as stipulated in the Chinese Constitution and law.
In contrast, the regulations give the Chinese communist-authoritarian regime powers to enforce a Chinese-centric way of life in the occupied Tibet and to cultivate informants for the authoritarian state. The regulations also give additional reasons for serious concerns, as they may contribute to an exacerbation of a discriminatory treatment of Tibetan people that is already in place.
The law is just another authoritarian-tool systematically put forward by China to advance “Sinicization”. The legislation calls for public and private organizations in Tibet to ‘strengthen ethnic unity’ and to prevent the spread of ‘separatist ideas’ and asks for combating separatism and “strengthening ethnic unity” along a wide spectrum of government, business, and community organizations.
Article three of the legislation states that “safeguarding oneness of the motherland, strengthening ethnic unity, and taking an unambiguous stand against separatism are common responsibilities of all people from all ethnic groups.”
Article four of the law asks for establishing “model districts” of ethnic unity in the region to promote development and stability in Tibet. The model, it says, will “guarantee to advance the people of all ethnic groups to build a better home, create a better future, and share the glorious dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”
Article 46 asks organizations to give “education” to their employees who disturb ethnic unity or spread separatist ideas. If the offense is deemed too severe, “public security bureaus will handle the related organization or individuals according to law.” Many argue that the new law is a way for Chinese authoritarians to bring more Chinese to settle in Tibet and decimate the Tibetan culture, identity or religion, which is seen by the communist-authoritarian regime as a threat to national unity. They further criticised China for its wildly and grossly in tension, contradicting its own constitution and the Chinese government’s obligations under international law.
They also criticised the Chinese authorities now maintain a tight grip on Tibet and the new regulations systematically violated international human rights standards, such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
The Chinese communist authoritarians continue restricting Tibetans’ political activities and peaceful expression of cultural and religious identities and subjecting Tibetans to imprisonment, torture, and extrajudicial killings. As a result of the continuing occupation of Tibet and the policies of the ongoing political repression, cultural assimilation, economic marginalization, and environmental destruction, Tibetans continued to stir up Tibetan protests against China's illegal occupation and annexation of occupied lands belonging to Tibet.
1.2 Million Tibetans have been killed in this conflict since Tibet was violently and illegally occupied, according to international law, by China in 1949/1950. More than 100,000 Tibetans have been forced to flee their homeland and now live in Exile communities around the world. Until today, the rule of law or basic human rights is non-existent in Tibet. Surveillance, repression, and arbitrary arrests are daily-routine. Despite the continued suppression, the Tibetan people choose the path of non-violent resistance and for that, they deserve our utmost respect and full support.
Over the past 70 decades, there has been ongoing political repression, social discrimination, economic marginalization, environmental destruction, and cultural assimilation, particularly due to Chinese migration to Tibet which is fueling intense resentment among the people of occupied Tibet. The communist-totalitarian state of China began its invasion of Tibet in 1949, reaching complete occupation of the country in 1959. Since that time, more than 1.2 million people, 20% of the nation's population of six million, have died as a direct result of China's invasion and occupation. In addition, over 99% of Tibet's six thousand religious monasteries, temples, and shrines, have been looted or decimated resulting in the destruction of hundreds of thousands of sacred Buddhist scriptures.
Until 1949, Tibet was an independent nation in the Himalayas which had little contact with the rest of the world. It existed as a rich cultural storehouse — unifying theme among the Tibetans — as was their own language, literature, art, and world view developed by living at high altitudes, under harsh conditions, in a balance with their environment.
China is guilty of mass genocide against 1.2 million people of Tibet, the Chinese government has never made a formal apology for their atrocities in Tibet. Within China itself and in occupied Eastern Turkistan and Inner Mongolia massive human rights abuses continue.